Knysna victim discovers life-changing note in donated jacket

2017-07-26 11:48
Quentin Haman in the jacket donated by Inge Coetsee. (Netwerk24)

Quentin Haman in the jacket donated by Inge Coetsee. (Netwerk24)

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George – A hand-written note in a jacket pocket has changed the life of Quentin Haman, a victim of the Knysna fires.

The leather jacket was donated by Inge Coetsee, a benefactor from Pretoria and eventually landed up with Haman, Netwerk24 reported.

The jacket had belonged to Inge's husband Berto. He'd worn it on their wedding day in England in 2004.

Haman says he turned 45 on June 7, the day that the fires broke out. Most of his and his mother's possessions were destroyed on the farm on which they had been living.

He had had heart attacks late last year and early this year. He designs websites and works from home.

ALSO READ: Knysna family finds hope in the ashes

Inge Coetsee's hand-written letter. (Netwerk24) 

"Because it was my birthday, I decided to relax and take it easy. That morning we saw the fire in the distance. The wind was bad, but the fire moved past us. Later, the wind changed direction and crossed over a road. By 15:00, we evacuated the house." 

He later returned to help put out the fire.

"By 20:30 we had to evacuate and leave the farm. I went back at about 01:30 only to find total destruction. Everything had been destroyed in the fire, including computer equipment I had collected over the years."

Berto said he bought the jacket in South Africa and took it along to England. The idea hadn't been for him to wear it on his wedding day.

"It was just to have something warm."

He did, however, end up wearing it to their wedding in Cambridge.

A 'present on the day I lost everything'

After the recent fires, Coetsee wanted to donate something to the victims.

"She went through our cupboards and phoned to ask if she could donate the jacket."

According to Berto, they like helping others.

"We believe that what you sow, you shall reap. We often go to Keurbooms River for the holidays and I would like to meet Quentin. The jacket is his now and he can keep it."

Two weeks after the fires, Quentin went to the Knysna Montessori School in Welbedacht for help. He was ill. A woman gave him the donated jacket to keep himself warm.

He got food at the school. Only when he was outside again, did he realise that it was a nice jacket. He shoved his hands into the pockets and came across the note Inge had written. In it she wrote that she hoped the new owner would find some warmth when wearing it and getting his life together again.

Quentin said he had tears in his eyes while reading it.

"At that moment I realised that we'd lost everything, but that we'd be OK."

He later contacted the Coetsees via email to thank them for the jacket.

"When things are up and running again in Knysna, I want to go to Pretoria to thank Inge and her husband personally. I've always wanted a jacket like this. It was a wonderful birthday present on the day I lost everything." 

Read more on:    george  |  knysna fires  |  fires  |  good news

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