On Sunday evening we observed thick black smoke rising from the top of the township. Within minutes, flames were higher than the trees and we heard the sirens of emergency vehicles en route to the fire. While this photograph does not do justice to the extent of the fire damage, Jim was told by an adult male that 17 homes/shacks were destroyed.
The same adult male told Jim that, upon returning to his girlfriend/wife in Knysna, a man learned that she was cheating on him and he decided to burn down the shack in which she lived. The fire spread quickly to surrounding homes. Fortunately, the home of a 16 year-old member of our original Bulele membership group who lives only 6 houses from the fire site was spared. Janet and our Canadian friend, Elizabeth, visited a wild cat sanctuary during her stay in Knysna. These are 4 month old lion cubs!
Jim and Robin attended the annual e’Pap luncheon where Robin was invited to speak about his experience with e’Pap. e’Pap is a nutritionally complete porridge developed many years ago by an African social entrepreneur. The e’Pap program in Knysna feeds thousands of disadvantaged preschool to high school-age children each school day. Robin graduated high school 4 months ago and credits much of his academic success to the fact that he ate e’Pap daily through primary and high school. Many youth attend school on an empty stomach and suffer the distraction of hunger on a daily basis.
Following the signing of the truce between the 45 boys in the 3 high school gangs, the Police invited the boys and their parents to an evening meeting intended to reinforce the importance of parental involvement in the long term solution to this issue. The meeting went well and each member of the panel and Jim spoke briefly, after which parents asked questions and offered input. Two youth also provided input.
Many of the boys attended the meeting, along with some parents, however it is possible that many parents never received the invitation letter from their sons.
With only 1 week remaining before we return to Canada, we remain busy with our youth-related projects and implementing plans to maintain communication with many of the youth during our absence.
Preparing to depart also includes saying good bye to the many friends we have met over the years. Last weekend we were invited by Marie and Brian (from Ireland) to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon on their boat. We dropped anchor by scenic Red Bridge.
We will certainly miss our friends and the natural beauty of of Knysna… Janet & Jim