This blog was written by candlelight 3 days after the first big storm of winter 2017 hit Cape Town, South Africa. We have been without electricity now for over 80 hours and counting. We live in the middle of the city!
i have raged, fumed, sworn I’d never pay my taxes again, internalised anger, simmered with rage. In short I have been very very cross! I sound like a petulant teenager even to myself but I think that we have a right to expect that an emergency phone number is answered and not cut off or simply allowed to ring unanswered for hours on end. We should be able to expect answers when 24 hours has passed without any response to our questions and no reassurance that we will have power at some time in the future.Most especially we have the right to imagine in minute details the intimely perishing of the good folk who say things like “well, you know it could be a lot worse” while they look on from their warmed and powered up homes with condescending sympathy.
jokes aside though it did give me pause and a whole lot of dark down time to think about the people for whom this is not a 80 hour affair but the way it is 24/7 ,365. What I was acutely aware of is how isolating and how lonely an experience like this can be, when it feels like nobody is hearing your calls for help. Its a sad, frightening and terribly disempowering place to be. Throw one or two young kids in there and its no party.
It’s astonishing how much we take for granted in our modern society and how quickly we become so reliant on these services. But what about those who can never rely on electricity, water supply, toilet facilities, roofs over their heads? In our country there are a lot of them. In the world their numbers are staggering and should shame us greatly. They are the people who have been left behind, forgotten, ignored, disempowered. The Collatoral damage.
In a blog that celebrates beautiful architecture, lavish interiors, cutting edge design, there is also a space to remember those for whom these things are unattainable fantasy. Losing amenities that we rely on so heavily can humble you and bring you to your knees in record time. Imagine the school kid who must study for school by candlelight. The business man who wakes before dawn, washes in icy water and begins his long commute to work in a modern city oblivious to his circumstances. A mother who struggles and stresses to keep her newborn baby warm and healthy in the mud and wet of a township hit by such a storm. Those odds can seem insurmountable. So, if we turn our internalised rage at albeit an very disconcerting situation and look to these people, you have to have a new respect for them. Respect for their resilience. Respect for what must be almost insane positivity in the face of ongoing adversity. We must be humbled by what they endure day in and day out and hopefully we can find a way to do something that translates to – we see you and we care.
Below is a list of various organisations that you can send charity contributions to in order to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the storm or just the realities of a winter without what we would consider the basic means of survival.
Gift of the Givers https://www.facebook.com/GiftoftheGivers/
Address: 7 Transvaal Str. Paarden Island
Contact: Mr Andre Olivier
Tel: 021 511 4153 | 082 935 3353
Address: No 18 Belgravia Rd, Athlone
Contact: Ebrahim Smith
Tel: 021 633 0010 | 083 953 3231
The Salvation Army (Western Cape Division) http://salvationarmy.org.za/
Address: No 85 Maynard Rd, Wynberg
Contact: Carolyn Correia/Neville Hitchcock
Tel: 021 761 8530
The South African Red Cross Society (Western Cape)
Address: 21 Broad Rd, Wynberg
Contact: Michael Jacobs/Brian Davis
Tel: 021 797 5360
South African National Zakah Fund (SANZAF)
Address: 22 Cornflower Street, Bridgetown
Contact: Abduraghmaan George
Tel: 021 638 5108
Address: 323 Mongezi Road, Section G, Khayelitsha
Contact: Thembeka Makana
Tel: 021 364 1483