- Alyssa Pillay founded #LightUpKZN in response to the looting action which crippled many parts of the province
- Working together with other stakeholders, the charitable initiative aims to help KZN families by paying their water and electricity bills
- Speaking exclusively with Briefly News, Pillay shares why she started the initiative and opens up about the biggest lessons the unrest in KZN has taught her
Alyssa Pillay is the warm-hearted beauty behind #LightUpKZN. The KwaZulu-Natal local founded the charitable initiative in response to looting action which crippled many parts of the province.
Seeing a dire need in the community, Light Up KZN aims to help struggling families get back on their feet by sponsoring them with water and electricity vouchers.
Speaking exclusively with Briefly News, Pillay opened up about what inspired her charitable work as well as shared the impact that the looting has had on her own life.
Check out the interesting interview below:
Hi Alyssa. You're the founder of #LightUpKZN. What inspired you to start the charitable initiative?
"During an event like the KZN unrest, I don't think that it's inspiration that drives one to start a charitable initiative. My friends and I felt helpless being comfortable in our homes, knowing that other people did not have the same privilege.
"LightUpKZN wasn't founded on a solid idea, it was simply recognising a desperate need and plea of thousands of people in KZN matched with kind people online trying their best to alleviate that need with the capacity and resources that they had at that point in time."
Pillay adds that she did not expect her idea to snowball the way it did but thought back to the many people who had kept her pushing and embraced the growth.
What were some initial challenges you faced in terms of eg. getting people to donate or making sure vouchers got to those in need?
"To keep up with the influx of questions coming in regarding how to purchase prepaid electricity and the disproportionate amounts of electricity that was donated to each home.
"By day 4, I chatted to two kind women, Raj Moodley and Reshmi (whom I haven't met yet!) -their input and advice steered the campaign towards where we are currently. Thanks to suggestions made by my very smart friend Noeleen Naidoo of Ingwe Property Group, we reduced the amount of admin by requesting cellphone numbers of recipients along with their meter numbers and we regulated the amount of electricity pledged per voucher, which increased the number of homes being lit up drastically.
"By implementing these small yet significant changes, we were able to eradicate all the initial challenges that the #LightUpKZN campaign faced."
Getting a little more personal, Pillay opened up about her own experience and the effects the looting action may have had in her own life. The young woman discussed her privilege and how the unrest created a really teachable moment.
"I truly realised how privileged I am and I'm not okay with that. My parents taught my sister and I to be charitable, so I was always aware of people being in need but I didn't realise the extent of the state of our country.
"Personally, the unrest helped me to realise that I don't want to complain about the problems our community and nation faces any longer, I want to actively play a part in finding solutions."
What lessons do you hope people will take away from the looting we saw in parts of KZN and Gauteng?
"I really do hope for peace and compassion, from the bottom of my heart. I witnessed communities rally to protect residents and distribute basic necessities amongst each other.
"We are capable of so many great things TOGETHER, irrespective of race, age, gender, political differences. I can only hope that we will elect more God-fearing, morally upright leaders in the future. Change is required, the civil unrest has shown us that we are able to make that change together. "
Finally, where can people reach you if they want to donate?
"There are many families in need of prepaid electricity & water in KwaZulu Natal due to job loss after the looting and unrest.
"If one would like to sponsor a utility voucher: 1. Pledge any amount (even R20 helps) 2. Request a meter number from @alyssapillay on Instagram/Twitter/TikTok 3. Purchase the voucher and forward it to the recipient."
Haibo: R68k blue couch looted in Durban recovered minutes from the storefront
In more news from KZN, Briefly News previously reported that the owners of a Durban furniture store can certainly breathe a sigh of relief after their now-famous R68 000 blue leather lounge suite was recovered.
According to an SAPS member, the blue sofa was tracked down to an informal community in Quarry Road, just minutes away from the luxury sofa retailer.
The anonymous police source said the sofa had been recovered over the weekend and had sustained some noticeable damage, IOL reports. No formal arrests have been made in the case yet.
The couch, which retails at R67,999, gained notoriety on social media after it was photographed at an informal settlement just hours after being looted from a Springfield showroom during the unrest, The South African reports.
In an update on this story, it's reported store owners have made their way to Sydenham Police Station on Tuesday morning to identify whether or not the sofa really is their stolen property.
Owner of Leather Gallery, Terry Parry had been made aware of the sofa's retrieval and shared these interesting comments with TimesLIVE:
“We will go to the police to see if it is indeed ours. Only we can identify if it really is ours.
“I don’t know what happens if we identify it as ours. I don’t know the procedure on whether we are allowed to take it back,” she added.
Enjoyed reading our story? Download BRIEFLY's news app on Google Play now and stay up-to-date with major South African news!