Ryan Rennis wrote this morning about helping the poor and this made me think of our experiences since returning to South Africa.
When our eldest son was a baby he cried when our domestic, Annah, would leave to go visit her family over weekends. Just by telling you this, should give an indication of how much he loves her. She is a family member to us.
Like the many other whites I too decided that there wasn’t a future for my child (one at that stage) here, so we packed up and moved to America, just to log into local news sites and check the temperature and news every day. That was until I realised one day 3 years later that there was no way I was ever going to divorce myself from Africa.
We packed up and came back. I am now carrying my bag of ANC salt and would rather help fix this place than give up on “my” people.
So first thing we did, literally the day after we returned, was go look for Annah. We found Annah unemployed and in a sad state. Tears and hugs all round she came back to us.
But upon our return we built a new house. Rejuvenated and having freed myself from all the old South African baggage, we decided that unlike other people we are not going to do the servant quarters thing. We built Annah a proper flatlet. She has her own lounge with a kitchenette, separate bedroom and bathroom all complete with under floor heating. She loved her new place because all her friends in the neighbourhood could sit and skinner and watch television in her new house.
About 9 months into our stay at our new house, Annah approached my wife to borrow some money. My wife wanted to know why such a large amount and Annah said she wanted to buy some corrugated iron sheets. She had identified a stand in a new informal settlement and wanted to build her own little house. Shaking our heads we gave her the money.
Annah leaves every weekend to go to her little house.
It is winter now and for the love of life I can’t understand why one would give up under floor heating to go freeze every weekend in a tin shack. They have burgled this shack countless times.
This has taught me a whole lot of wisdom about our country and Africa in general.
Poverty is a conscious choice you make, unconsciously.
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