13/06/2017 03:59 SAST | Updated 13/06/2017 05:23 SAST

How The Knysna Fires Showcased The Power Of Ubuntu

I saw a lady wiping up the dignity she once had, a humble RDP house/shack with a broom.

Herald Live

The last few days have been devastating for Knysna. It shook me to my core and came completely unexpected. Extremely dangerous fires, fueled by gale force winds of up to 120 km/h brought by the #capestorm. Between 500 and 600 homes have been destroyed to the date this article was written. It resulted in the death of seven people so far and thousands of people had to evacuate.

On Wednesday, I was in Joburg with two friends who live in Knysna, throughout the day there was a lot of sadness and feelings of complete helplessness, then the big breakdown came. I witnessed my one friend watching her family evacuate their home, over facetime. She cried uncontrollably and I wasn't quite sure what to do, but at that very moment it ripped my heart out. This was before we boarded the plane back to Cape Town. During the flight, I thought a bit.

From the very beginning of my life, it became very clear to me, that nothing would mean anything if I did not live a life that is of use to others. I could not understand how some people were being left completely homeless with nothing, and yet I still had a house I could return to, where I could be safe. I could not seem to wrap my head around that, but I did what being South African required of me, and that was to embody the spirit of ubuntu.

I immediately contacted my colleagues at DASO Stellenbosch and DA Youth Western Cape, and we managed to buy some food for the Knysna fire victims and got a car to go to Knysna with. Upon arrival, we were shocked to see the state of despair the fires left Knysna in. I have visited Knysna before and I couldn't understand how such a beautiful place could look so hopeless. We immediately went into the main informal settlement there and went to see how we could help. The informal settlement area, White Location was hit the hardest.

I saw a lady wiping up the dignity she once had, a humble RDP house/shack with a broom. Nothing but ashes were left, through the twin windows of her soul I could see that she had no family, and now no house. I felt so helpless because all I could give her, was food. I wanted to build her a house, give her clothes, I wanted to give her back her dignity. There were so many more like this woman. We visited a donation centre, and there I saw that there was still some good left in this world. Every five minutes a vehicle would stop and drop off some food. It was amazing to see how much people care, and how everyone came together regardless of race, to help each other out.

This inspired me beyond measure because you see we are all really on the same path and the same journey. We want the best for South Africa and for our children. We want dignity and we want to feel like we matter. I have never before witnessed such compassion in South Africa, than I did in Knysna. The spirit of Ubutu was truly preset , because it's true, I AM BECAUSE WE ARE.