Staying Safe. An Update From South Africa
A huge number of people have been kind enough to reach out over the last week to check if our KHULA team, our schools, and our students are safe given the turmoil in South Africa. It has been a hard week, especially for members of our team who are based in towns, but we wanted to write to reassure you that we are all safe and give you a sense of how things are feeling from on the ground with the current unrest that is especially present in KwaZulu-Natal.
Given our rural location in Rorke’s Drift and Isandlwana, we have been lucky to be spared most of the upheaval. Fortunately the social grant payment days for local families, which the majority of the community relies on, preceded the current violence and so people have basic foods. Towns around us, like Dundee and Nquthu, are being protected by their citizens and everyone is vigilant, preventing looting.
Bigger cities, like Durban, have seen the brunt of the damage. With freeways filled with burning vehicles, looting of department stores, industrial areas set alight, and two dozen schools and a hospital destroyed. While the vast number of looters initially overthrew the police, the army has now been deployed to assist affected areas of KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. In the meantime, local communities have been defending houses and stores to keep them secure.
Fuel is rationed, most shops have no stock, and businesses only open sporadically when there is a quiet moment. Bread, milk, meat and other staples are hard to find - and this is likely to only get worse in the days ahead given the state of roads and industrial areas.
It seems that with the arrival of new troops, things are beginning to quieten down. Neighbourhoods are seeing people cautiously step out onto the streets. Taxi drivers have played an incredible role protecting shops along their routes, and are now helping communities with the clean up operations. We have seen acts of astounding kindness and bravery, and its heartwarming to see how this crisis has united communities across all the usual tricky boundaries of race, religion and economics.
Luckily we are in the midst of school holidays, so children are home and are not required to travel to school. The holidays have been extended due to COVID but KHULA has been working with Grade 10 to 12 to keep youth on track with Maths using study packs, online resources and WhatsApp lessons.
The immediate situation is stressful and worrying, but thankfully we are all safe. Our priority is to ensure that despite the global pandemic, and despite the civil unrest, children are not forgotten - their finite time in education is still a priority, and that they have a support system in place when they need it the most.
If you are able to help us in this, we would be enormously grateful.