I sit here in awe of rescue workers, the volunteers and donations that has kept people going during the devastation that is the Nelson Mandela Bay and Garden Route fires.
I haven’t blogged in a few days, honestly, I have just been finding anything I am likely to say pretty superficial in the light of current events. How can I share something as random as my balsamic vinegar reduction recipe (albeit awesome) when people have died, homes have been lost and the air still smells thick with smoke?
On Saturday I followed the news on social media quite closely as I sit at the hospital having a series of blood tests done. I sat there shocked to find out how my home of Nelson Mandela Bay was being overcome by blazes. Greenbushes, Barcelona, Van Stadens, St Albans, Bushbuckridge, Thornhill, Lady Slipper, Rocklands, had by this point experienced fires. Sardinia Bay and Schoenmakerskop residents were evacuated while at least eight homes were destroyed then I hear Woodridge College is on fire. All I could think was WTAF.
I was still reeling about the Knysna fires which I read had seen 3000 evacuated, 400 homes and 200 informal structures destroyed while 1000 Plett residents were evacuated. Oh wait now Bluewater Bay which is like a 20min drive from my home is also being evacuated.
I’m sitting in shock. I’m not in a financial position to give as much as I’d like. A small donation would be all I can muster and the guilt eats at me. I want to do more. But at this point I have a chest and ear infection which is rendering me pretty useless and the drink they gave me at hospital makes me so drowsy, driving home through the smoke covered streets becomes a regrettable venture.
Later that day, the electricity is off, due to the fires I believe, my son’s fever is through the roof and as I cradle him in my arms in the dark, I pray. I pray for the mom’s whose children have been lost in the devastation.Later, I put on the fan to clear the smoke from his room and thank God that he still has a room, the smoke is affecting my sinuses and both my husband and son are struggling to breath as they suffer from chronic bronchitis and easy breathing is a luxury for them at best of times.
My clothes smell of smoke and my eyes well up for the people who had to evacuate with nothing but the clothes on their backs, how do you even choose an outfit for something like this?
As I lay there drowsy from medication with a child complaining that his insides are hot (fever) I scroll through my news feed and see this glimmer of hope.
My friend in Knysna who I was so worried about has taken in a group of destitute people (I’m not surprised; she once took in a chicken and housed it in her bathtub when disaster struck, so helping is in her nature). Everywhere I look the question is “how can I help?”, “what can I assist in?” , “How can I join the volunteers?”. I know of drop off points and that my jackets which seemed to have shrunk in the wash (shhhh) would be able to help others, so I share info where I can.
I’m invited to Facebook and WhatsApp groups organising relief ventures and I see first hand how every little helps.
Just a month or so ago I wrote about my fears for the country. But today I want to write about my pride.
Yes there are people trying to turn this into a political/race thing. There are people sharing fake news and unsubstantiated stores and adding fuel to the already destructive emotional fire of the country. “Look how THOSE people get more help than THOSE people”, “Where is the money even going, can people be trusted?” , “Why do they want to feed people burgers and KFC when peanut butter bread is cheaper”…. There will always be THOSE people… and I have THOSE tendencies myself sometimes – it concerns me how some people’s losses trump other people’s losses (a story for another time).
But this isn’t about THAT, and THOSE…It is about the people, the individual volunteers giving food, clothes, medication, those leaving the safety of their own homes to assist others who no longer have “the safety of their own homes”. The situation is scary, it’s intense but also it’s so inspiring.
Looks like not everyone sucks like I was beginning to believe, looks like we can put pettiness aside and help where we can. Turns out I know so many unsung heroes. Honestly I am insanely proud to know so many fire volunteers and I just want to give a big thank you. Thank you to everyone doing their small part in all of this.
If you would like to help out you can find a list of drop off points HERE…
While the smoke settles and tear and sweat stained faces are cleaned off I guess there is one thing we can be proud of, one thing we can all say and that is THERE IS HOPE FOR US YET