My lovely domestic came to work on Tuesday and I warned her about the huge storm approaching. “Sindiswe, tomorrow there is going to be a big storm, with more rain and wind than we’ve experienced for years, do you want to sleep here tonight? I’ll phone the lady you’re meant to work for tomorrow and tell her you can’t come in, it’s too risky.” Sindiswe is in her 60’s, she lives alone, in a shack in Khayelitsha, at the very bottom of a hill. “Ooooh, really? Big storm? No I must go home and protect my shack. If it floods, I must dig a hole in the ground and use the pipe to get the water out. I must protect it, or they will come and take everything.” She walks away and carries on cleaning. My heart sinks. I can’t deal.
Standing here in my kitchen, surrounded by concrete walls, a shiny red Le Creuset kettle, a Nutribullet and coffee machine, 3 “necessities” in my daily life, the rand value of which equals more than she earns over a 6 month period. Yet, she smiles.
3 days later I read: A family trying to flea the fire, found burnt to death, father lying on top of his pregnant wife and child, trying to shield them from the flames with his body. The devastation is unimaginable from the comfort of my couch. How very blessed I am.
This past week has been an emotional one for everyone affected directly or indirectly by the Cape Town storms and the Knysna fires. We could never have predicted this amount of destruction.
But somehow, the people who have lost the most, stand up and carry on. They’ve lost everything, yet they are grateful. And so very brave.
Everywhere I look, every corner I turn, there are people gathering, collecting, giving, donating, sending energy, love and prayers to those in need. In the eye of the worst storm, there is a fierce and graceful strength that vibrates strong throughout this country, South Africa.
The human connection is a powerful thing and I think we can all feel the ‘Ubuntu’ spirit of South Africa running strong at the moment. The meaning of Ubuntu: ‘I AM – BECAUSE WE ARE’ has never rung more true.
We’re running our own Ubuntu Baba donation campaign to help in the small way we can, if you are able to, please join us here.