As South Africans track the final counting following our recent national elections, there are often mixed emotions. Politics is rife with disagreement, dispute, allegations, and mistrust. And let’s face it, we don’t have the proudest history when it comes to politics. You can relax – this is not a political post. Instead I want to talk to you about what I experienced today. And it’s about people. No politics.
Our province and city was ravaged by a severe storm recently, and many people lost their homes and more than 70 people lost their lives after severe localized flooding. As is the case in such situations, those most affected were from the informal settlements; people with very little, but with everything to lose.
Since this tragedy, we have been collecting food, clothing, feminine hygiene products, and other essential items. Today we went to one of many temporary camps for people who have lost everything. 85 families living in a temporary tent. Completely dependent on the government and others to take care of their needs. Women, children, babies and men, all trying their best to get on with their lives, despite an uncertain future. No home to go back to. No clarity in where the next meal will come from. Hopeful that their remaining belongings will not be taken from them.
As we were delivering what now seemed like a tiny donation, the local MEC for Health arrived to offer his donation too. And so we combined efforts and were able to bring some joy to the survivors that we met. The MEC was gracious and warm, handing over fresh veggies from his garden, blankets and snack packs for the children. Offering a prayer. Added to our pile of goods, all of this will certainly help. For a short while. The MEC was pleased to see us and thanked us for doing our part – a private organization, with no obligation to get involved.
In situations like this I am reminded that despite our political views, when it comes down to it – people are people. And people care. People want to help. And every bit of kindness counts.
As I sit in my comfy chair (not on the cold ground), in my comfy home (not in a tent), watching the news after just eating dinner (not hungry and scared), I am immensely grateful for all that I have. And I am hopeful that the spirit of Ubuntu will carry this great nation of ours forwards.