Fires Engulf Knysna

Philip Shroder, YFC Director, Knysna, South Africa

Raging forest fires, fanned by gale-force winds, have destroyed numerous structures and left many people homeless in the South African city of Knysna.

Youth for Christ would like to thank everyone for all the support and donations received so far – it is amazing to see how we here at YFC, and also in Knysna, are loved by so many people out there.

We are slowly but surely trying to get back to normal, although it is difficult with so many people still in shock and the need being so huge. This is a process that will keep us busy for the next few months to come.

Sadly, however, we find that many people take advantage of the situation, even though they were not affected by the fire at all. We realise that the need and poverty are huge but our strategy at Youth for Christ is now to firstly, attend to the needs of our immediate staff, families, friends and people whose circumstances we have verified. After these people have been assisted we will then continue to help others in need as there will be more than enough to go around. Over 400 houses have been burnt down in the “white” areas and about 100 in the “disadvantaged” areas.Below are a few examples of people Youth for Christ has been able to help after verifying their circumstances:

  • A lady of 64 years old who lost her house in Campbell Street, Knysna Heights. All she has left is her car, two cats, laptop and handbag. We have assisted her financially, emotionally, spiritually, with immediate needs such as toiletries and clothes and we have also been able to secure temporary accommodation for her. Currently, she still stays with us.
  • We have been involved in counselling and assisting Blessing and his family with food, bedding and clothes after he lost his 4-year-old daughter and his wife in the fire.
  • JJ and Jenny who hardly had anything and now lost everything. We are assisting them with furniture (new bar fridge, radio, bed, etc), clothes, groceries, etc. They are very traumatised and we will keep on following up with them. They have secured accommodation in a bachelor flat (double garage size) and we are working together with the owners to make JJ and Jenny as comfortable as possible
  • Ettienne (one of our staff members) have received groceries and clothes for him, his wife and two children. They are staying with his parents and we are in the process of planning and getting enough money together to assist him in building a new house. Your support will surely also hugely assist with this.
  • Queen’s (staff member) house has been damaged but whilst evacuating, some of their clothes have been stolen. We are assisting her and her family with clothes and groceries. Originally she thought that their property also went up in flames, but she and her family were spared.
  • Thando, who also lost everything, is one of our students and we will also assist him in building a new house for him and his family

And so it goes on and on. We are receiving requests for help by the hour, but as mentioned above, we are verifying every request as far as possible. We are also trying to focus on the medium and long-term needs and will keep on assisting where we can while we can.

If you still would like to add to the need, our first priority is for cash so we can attend to specific needs. On the medium, to longer term, we would also need building materials and more specifically appliances for the families as they move back into their homes.

Thanks again for being part of the above and indirectly playing a very big part in giving back dignity to so many people and helping them to rebuild their lives. We are just an instrument in God’s hand and you are part of that instrument.

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