My South African Story

first_imgI am a Swiss lady of 63 years. I left Switzerland – this wonderful, clean and well-organized country – in 2000. It was too narrow-minded for me, and I emigrated to Spain.I lived at the Spanish coast six long years, until I decided to book a 2-week holiday in South Africa. Why SA? I don’t know. The only part of Africa I ever have been before was Morocco – and I was fascinated by the North African culture.Hence I arrived in Johannesburg the 23rd of July 2005, booked a Hotel close to the Airport, and after waking up the next morning I went outside.I have taken a deep breath and got tears in my eyes because of the arising feeling: “I am home”. This feeling was so strong, also during the next 2 weeks travelling around in the Cradle of Humankind that I decided: I want to live in this beautiful country. Not only because of this feeling, but also how I experienced the people.‘You must be crazy’Everyone I was talking about living here, told me: “You must be crazy; there is no future in this country. Look only at the crime.” I must admit that there is also lots of crime in Spain and in Switzerland, but not as brutal.Wherever I went – whatever problem I had: everybody was friendly and helpful. That was something new for me.When I was standing in a queue and had to wait, people were talking to me. Something I never experienced before, not in Switzerland and of course never in Spain. I was amazed . that’s communication!I was sad when my holidays ended and it was clear: I am coming back! Five months later, after having sold my business and everything I had, I arrived Christmas Day 2005 in Johannesburg, only with two suitcases of clothes and 2 dogs.I didn’t know where to liveI didn’t know where to live and how to make a living. But that was not too important. I only wanted to be here, in this beautiful country, with all the birds and animals, with a wonderful climate, a warm sun and a wide sky full of inspiring clouds. I wanted to discover the mentality of the South Africans and also experience black people and their beliefs – and was astounded about the variety and the depth.I felt very much attracted to the area of Magaliesburg, and the first few weeks I was living in self-catering cottages. It was not easy to find such kind of accommodation with two dogs. But the ones that allowed pets were very friendly.I didn’t know the heavy rainfalls here and experienced some surprises to drive my VW Chico on dirt tracks. One day I stuck. Only a few minutes later a friendly man in a 4×4 stopped and pulled me out – we became friends.Finally I found a nice little house to rent in this area and moved in. I bought new furniture, curtains and what else I needed. After a few days the company delivered a fridge and washing machine – and now I could start really living in South Africa.Everything was goneFor the first time I used my washing machine with all my dirty clothes and hung them outside in the sun before I left for shopping – that was my first mistake. Because of the not really secure fence (there were some holes in it), I took my (hunting) dogs along – that was already the second mistake.When I drove back home I immediately noticed at the gate that the washing rack was not anymore where I placed it. With very bad feelings I entered the house. Everything was gone, everything except the furniture! All new clothes, all bed sheets, all shoes – everything. The only thing left, was what I wore.The friendly Policemen have taken a report – and you wouldn’t believe it: after a few weeks I got more than 50% of my stuff back!It depends on the way of lookingI think it depends on the way of looking at this incident. I am living in South Africa and it is well known that (almost) nothing is secure, except the increasing prices. But I only lost some clothes and towels and suitcases – not my life. If I would be scared of crime, I rather should move into another country. It is part of the life here.Anyway, I moved closer to Johannesburg to reach my clients and rented a beautiful tiny house and applied for a Business Permit; I am a Health consultant. It took me a while until I got it, but with the friendly help of a lady at the DTI Department of Trade and Industry finally I received my Business Permit and I was able to start my work.This small house was not big enough to put all my furniture in it, so I had to look for storage. A friend of a friend of a friend, I never have seen before – offered me a complete empty Container to store my furniture: for free! I didn’t believe it, but it was true: I can store my stuff at least during three years there. Unbelievable!South Africa is the country of contrast and it is a challenge to live here. In spite of all the warnings of people around me, I want to apply for Permanent Residence.Why? I experienced so many positive things in the 28 months I am living here, I never experienced in my life before, and I was living in different countries in this world. And I want to make a difference – I love South Africa. I need some more time to explore the entire huge country .Story submitted to SAinfo on 12 April 2008last_img read more

Belmont County Farm Bureau tackles local hunger issues

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest By Matt ReeseA hungry child is hard to stomach.It is hard to imagine in today’s society of excess and plenty that there are people — especially children — who regularly do not get enough food to meet basic nutritional needs. Yet, in every corner of Ohio, it is far too easy to find hungry children. Nationally, more than 13 million children live in food insecure homes and one in five children does not get the food they need every day. Three out of four teachers report that there are children in their classrooms who regularly come to school hungry.The Belmont County Farm Bureau decided to tackle this problem head on in their corner of the state by cooperating with local efforts to provide food to children in need through county schools. Dairy farmer Devin Cain is helping coordinate the program.“I had the privilege of going to Texas last year with DFA, our local milk co-op. We packaged meals down there for the homeless. All you have to do is boil water and add the package to the water and you have a hot nutritious meal. There is a two-year shelf life so it can be stored for a long time. Farm Bureau wanted to do a program with the school backpack program and I said, ‘I think I have an idea of what we can do.’ We are trying to raise $40,000 to package 22,222 meals. It costs $1.80 per package for six servings in a package,” Cain said. “There are currently 260 backpacks packaged per week in the four participating schools. All of the schools that I spoke to are very eager and happy to get these meals.”In the boom or bust economy of southeastern Ohio, communities continue to struggle even with the influx of oil and gas money in recent years. There is still an unfortunate number of hungry young people in the region.“Some of the stories they told me are so sad,” Cain said. “One kid hides all of his food in a broken down car in the backyard so his parents don’t eat it. Some kids don’t even have electric. I think the kids will be really pleased with the meals we are trying to package.”The program seeks to fill in the gaps around school meals for students in need.“If they go to school they are guaranteed meals to eat at school. On the weekends, some kids are home by themselves so they don’t have anything to eat. The three meals we are going to package are deluxe macaroni and cheese, instant apple cinnamon oatmeal and minestrone soup. We got to try all of these meals to see what they tasted like to make sure the kids would really like them,” Cain said. “We have until June 15 to collect the money. On July 20 we will meet at a local high school and these ingredients will come in bulk and we will have volunteers come and help package the meals for us.”Belmont County Farm Bureau will be hosting the meal-packaging event on Saturday, July 20, starting at 1 p.m. at Union Local High School Gymnasium, located at 66779 Belmont Morristown Rd., Belmont, Ohio 43718 in participation with the Outreach Program. The meals will be used by Barnesville, Bellaire, St. Clairsville, and Union Local schools. A donation of $100 will provide 300 servings. After the meals are packaged, they will be stored and distributed according to each school’s need for their number of backpacks. For more information, please call the Belmont County Farm Bureau office at 740-425-3681.All amounts are welcome with 100% of donations going to the meals. The Outreach Program is a 501(c) 3 organization so donations can be used as a tax write-off if desired. Donors will receive a letter from the Outreach Program with an explanation for taxes. Donations will be accepted until Saturday, June 15.last_img read more