Sometimes when huge horrific things happen, it is the little things that lift us back up again. For Knysna resident ESTER BEUKES… it has been the tortoises that have been found, the faint sound of frogs croaking again, the sight of a new green shoot in the midst of the burnt-out land next to her home, and the sharing of laughter and jokes amongst survivors.
Watch Firefighter revives tortoise he saved from Knysna Fire:
She says residents have been putting down food for monkeys and baboons that have hopefully survived the traumatic fires. One night this week Ester put out apple and orange pieces… and “in the morning some of the apples were gone and some were hollowed out. The oranges were clean. I hope it is our fruitbats that survived. This morning I heard more frog noise in the non-existant vlei area next to my home… so now we’ve put a bucket of water outside the fence for any wildlife that roam at night.”
From the sky: Full picture of wildfire damage along Garden Route
WATCH After the Fire: Knysna Fire Aftermath – From the Air
“This is people stepping up… you get hospitals in squash courts!”
“Some humour amongst all the madness!”
This week Ester’s neighbour moved back into his house, and the first thing he did… being South African? “Have a braai with friends!”
Typical SA conversation overheard whilst people lining up for donations helped load trucks with donations for elsewhere:
Nee, man wat is jou arms so slap om te vang, seker jou rook goed = your arms are weak and cannot catch properly because of things you smoke,
Jy byt seker haaie dood met jou haasbek mond = you probably bite sharks with those lost front teeth,
Ai kan die mense nie ‘n ou rookgoetjie donate nie = can’t people donate some cigarettes as well… to which the reply was: daar’s genoeg bome wat rook – gaan staan net daar en haal asem / haal asem die lug is vol = there is enough smoke just stand next to a smoking tree or breath the air)
Moetie vir jou Larny hou nie = don’t try to be smart (to someone who was picky about the food in her packet).
Helping with the donations, Ester said in one donated bag they found half a bottle of brandy with a thoughtful tot measure!
But it’s not all laughter. So many clothes were donated for women… but no sanitary wear. And one video of Ester’s shows the rich vegetation as the fires were approaching. The next shows the devastation and emptiness left behind. “My heart aches,” she says.
Yesterday she described the “eerie sound of the wind at present… no sound, just rustling fauna… hope it blows all the smoke away”.
It won’t blow the sad memories away… but life is moving forward in Knysna…
“They will put skips in areas for our rubble,” says Ester, “and remove it to areas where rubble can be recycled as treasures to build a new life…”