Help pours in for Miss Burger

2015-11-17 12:14
Barbie Burger (79) smiles with pride after her former pupils from Linpark High School raised more than R20?000 to pay her huge electricity bill. Her neighbour, Susan Keartland, has been assisting Burger in her battle with the Msunduzi Municipality.

Barbie Burger (79) smiles with pride after her former pupils from Linpark High School raised more than R20?000 to pay her huge electricity bill. Her neighbour, Susan Keartland, has been assisting Burger in her battle with the Msunduzi Municipality. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - In an extraordinary act of human ­kindness, more than R20 000 was raised by former Linpark High School pupils for their Afrikaans teacher, Barbie Burger (79), after she was left with an enormous utility bill last week.

The Witness reported last week that Burger was slapped with a municipal utility bill of R19 588,77 and her ­electricity disconnected after a water pipe burst on her property. She was left using her neighbours’ electricity to ­power her oxygen tank.

Just two days later, after one of her former pupils shared The Witness article on Facebook with fellow classmates, more than R20 000 was raised by ­Burger’s former pupils now living across South Africa and abroad.

“I am speechless. I just cannot even begin to tell you how I feel. It is not about the money, but I feel such a tremendous sense of pride in my pupils,” said Burger.

Currently R10 900 has been deposited into her personal account and R12 000 into another account, with more pupils pledging their support.

Her neighbour, Susan Keartland, whom the former pupils have dubbed “angel neighbour”, says when she saw the post on Facebook, she immediately went to Burger who began tearing up at the ­response from her pupils.

The article had more than 150 comments and 34 shares on Linpark High School’s Facebook page, with pupils now living in the United Kingdom and Australia sending her support and love.

“She taught both my husband [Armin Bartels] and I back in the late 70s and early 80s. We will send AU$100. Thanks for your help. Please send her our love,” wrote Judy Wessels Bartels.

“Miss Burger was my Afrikaans ­teacher from 1984 to 1987. I call on all her students to match or beat my pledge to donate R100 to help her pay her utility bill,” wrote Darryl Mackay.

Some pupils also shared fond memories of Burger as their teacher. “This is the best teacher I ever had! Coming from overseas, not knowing Afrikaans, I spent every holiday in my last year, 1979, with her, at her house learning Afrikaans. Who else would do that to help her pupil pass an exam? Now its payback time: how do I get her banking details? And who can send my warmest best wishes to her?” shared Tonny Thorsen.

Even pupils who did not attend Linpark High School showed her support.

“Guys, I am not a Linpark student nor am I an ex pupil, but I would like to help in any way I can. Please. I don’t work, I am still a scholar but if there is anything I can do please don’t hesitate,” wrote Lungelo Zibaya.

When The Witness visited Burger ­yesterday, she was bright and smiling when she answered the door and spoke without using her oxygen tank.

“As you can see, all the support she has received has left her feeling so much better as well. She has been walking around and smiling and looking so much better,” said Keartland.


BARBIE Burger wrote her own “thank you” letter to her former pupils who raised money for her electricity bill. She added that when she read the ­comments on Facebook, she ­remembered every pupil and a little story about each of them.

“In the early nineteen sixties, I felt very sad to see my first matric classes leaving. But I decided then and there that they were stepping into a whole new life and challenge and adventure that I should not expect them to ‘keep in touch’. If I do hear from them or see them again, it would be a bonus. It was a policy that worked well and there were some bonuses.

“What happened now in my old age has left me completely speechless. What I did as a teacher — and mostly enjoyed doing — I regarded as my job or calling. To be rewarded by the caring, loving help that came from you all is totally passed my expectations. Not only am I deeply thankful but I am ­immensely proud of you all!!

“You do not think of yourselves only, but have compassion for others too. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!! Baie, baie dankie!”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  bill

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