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  • Writer's pictureGail

Gratitude amidst the lock down

The COVID-19 virus has certainly changed the way we all live, think and behave, and I must admit to wallowing in a little bit of self pity for a while! It's pretty hard being self-employed as well as being an employer, when your whole business comes to a grinding halt, every wedding and function postponed and along with it our cash flow literally heads out of the window while the expenses continue. I think, as humans, our instinct is to look inwards, but this is so much bigger than you or me, and it is also time to reconsider and be kind and thoughtful.

We are lucky enough to work from home, and home is a beautiful spot in the Tala Valley, so firstly, l need to express my gratitude for the space that we are surrounded by and to be able to walk outside our

home, take our dogs for a stroll, pick fruit from the orchard and breathe clean air. The other upside of living where we do is that I have always shopped differently... because we don't have a corner shop, and the nearest store is a distance away, I have always shopped when I am in town for other things, brought things home and frozen them or stocked the pantry, so when this lock down became a reality I did not in fact have to buy much at all, apart from some yeast (we often make our own bread), some fresh bits and pieces and some eggs, a lot of it sourced from our local farming community.

I am also grateful to be married to a man who is kind and thoughtful, and in all honesty doesn't have a bad bone in his body, so when on the day before the lock down, he offered to take our staff into the madness of town so that they would not have to struggle with taxis and to give them a chance to do some shopping, I went with him, one of the best things I have ever done. One of our staff, Nicholas, had had a fall at home some weeks ago and remains in hospital, and of course with the shut down his family were no longer allowed to be with him and had all relocated to their home in a township outside Richmond, KZN, quite a distance from us. We drove through the chaos of a town struggling to cope with the desperation of everyone trying to get home, get food and stay safe.

We stopped and bought potatoes from a street trader for one of our staff, better potatoes than I bought from a supermarket a few days earlier, and I wondered why we don't do this more often? I put that money into his pocket, helping him to support his family for the next few weeks while he is unable to trade. Why do we support China Malls and conglomerates that don't give a damn about us? Let's make an effort, when life returns to normal, to support our local farmers, our street traders, our self-employed, the entrepreneurs who are all going to be so badly hit by this virus, let's be sure to get them back on their feet as quickly as we can.

When we arrived at Nicholas's home I can't tell you how pleased I was that we had made the journey. We were greeted with delight, the food was quickly taken inside their home and, we hope, will make a difference to a family that is struggling without the head of their household and the emotional distress that his accident has caused. How little effort it really took to make such a difference.

When I looked around me, at the shacks, the people walking to distant stores, the poverty I was so saddened...

I have seen all of the outrage and anger that has been posted on social media about people not self-distancing and not #stayingathome and that short trip into Richmond gave me a different perspective. The outrage should not be at these people, we need to stop thinking like this, our outrage needs to be at a society that has overlooked the poorest of the poor. Have you ever, for one moment, considered how different your life could be? Have you thought what it must be like to live in a home which consists of a tiny room, with no sanitation or running water? No fridge to keep your food in, no oven to cook on? No indoor toilet, let alone a shower or bath?

Why are so many of South Africans living in squalor, overlooked, unemployed, uncared for and barely scraping by on a government grant? Years of corruption and looting of Government coffers has exacerbated what was a bad situation, turning it into a national tragedy. Employment would solve an enormous amount of these woes, providing dignity, reducing crime and helping people to get on their feet, but few jobs are created and I would imagine that as we recover from the current lock down there will even fewer, so let us at the very least, treat people with kindness. #bekind Stop complaining. Have you ever been in a position where you have to wait all month for a pittance of a payment, struggle to get into town, deal with the hiked up prices and not be able to buy all of the basics because someone with too much money and not enough sense got there before you did and loaded up their trolleys with enough goods to last six months? Can you imagine? I hope that you never have to experience the grinding poverty that I witnessed, I hope that we will all learn something from this lock up, and it's not only to wash your hands, it's to give! It is within all of us to make a life a little easier, buy an extra bag of rice when you are shopping and give it to someone who needs it, cook a little extra and share it with someone who is hungry. If you can't give financially you can give emotional support, be a nice person, be considerate and be caring. Let's not be a judgmental society.

So when this lock down is over, I am going to re-read this little blog every so often, when I find myself caught up in the rush of day to day life and getting our business up and running again, I am going to remind myself to not be judgmental, to give more than I get, to be kind and to be human, I hope you do too.

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