On the 7th of June 2017, our lives changed and will never be the same. The way we feel and see the world will always be different to how things were on the 6th of June 2017
We will grow and rebuild and Knysna will be spectacular again. I remember growing up in the Transkei, and every year the Mlimi would burn the grazing lands, I would watch from my bedroom window. Over the next few months, I would see the landscape transform into a beautiful rich dark green space. Our Knysna and the people of Knysna will also transform, its nature.
Good will come of this
The people of the greater Knysna area as well as the nation of South Africa have come together in unity and their first reactions to the disaster were: “What can we do to help?” We at Metelerkamps saw this first-hand when local people and people from out of town streamed in with supplies, water, food, blankets and even books and toys. Working through the night receiving and sorting through loads of donations made us realise that GOOD CAN COME FROM ALL OF THIS, even through feelings like pain, fear, loss, confusion and hopelessness.
Some words from the team
I did not lose any possessions in the fire but what I heard from people who were affected is that this is something they will never forget. To see the fire with my own eyes was bit scary and traumatising. It is not something I want to experience in my life again.
John and I were away when the devastating fires ravaged Knysna. We were both without cellphone reception as John was riding the Freedom Challenge which he had trained so hard for and I was walking in the Kalahari with an equal amount of training. I only heard on Thursday morning and managed to get hold of John. We both felt the need to come home and see what needed to be done. There was no question of carrying on not knowing what was happening at home. Craig and Di Tingle were walking with me and as their house in Brenton had also burnt down they drove home with me.
On arrival, we found Metelerkamps a hive of activity and very different to the usual pristine condition it is in. There was an overwhelming amount of food, clothes, sympathy, empathy, tears, shock, fear and numbness. Food stations had been set up outside with hot soup, meals, sweets, energy drinks, water, eye drops etc for the firemen and anyone else who needed sustenance during the days and nights. The staff were fantastic and the donations pouring in from all over the country were humbling. People drove and sat in traffic for hours just to drop off donations.
From my point of view Firstly I was relieved that our family, staff and friends were safe. Looking at our house was unbelievable as it seemed astonishing that it burnt in an area which is surrounded by other buildings. We are both very strong but my brain felt numb, I couldn’t make decisions quickly and felt a bit like a zombie. (John would never feel like that) We both feel that at the end of the day it was all material goods and the memories we lost were the saddest of all but will be carried in our hearts now. It’s time to start new memories. A friend of ours said she would go through her old photographs and print some pictures for us of holidays together and I think that is a wonderful idea and gesture! Thank goodness we are insured and my heart goes out to those who didn’t have insurance for various reasons. My most touching moment is when a supplier of ours phoned to say how sorry she was we had lost our house and when I asked her about her tests for cancer she told me her cancer had spread. She has made a decision not to have treatment after watching the ravaging effects another family member has had to deal with. Her news made me feel completely devastated and reaffirmed for me that what we have lost is nothing compared to what she has to deal with. Good luck to everyone moving forward and we will all be taking it a step at a time.
The 7th of June seemed like an ordinary day but ended up being an extraordinary one. It was the longest, scariest, most horrific, unimaginable, surreal event; something you only see in movies… But also the most humbling experience. Seeing how generous and kind people were, was just overwhelming. Never not a “thank you” from a hungry fireman or a smile on their tired faces. It has taught me to be thankful for the little things and showed me how privileged we are to call a place like this home. And even though our home has been temporarily damaged it is still the most beautiful sight for sore eyes ♥
From here on #KnysnaRises