Kya Sands- Burning Memories
Written by: Mathapelo Monaisa
A little over two weeks ago we heard, saw and read reports of the devastating fire that broke out in the Kya Sands informal settlement, near Randburg. Many families lost their treasured items (however little they were), and children were left without a place to call home. Naturally, the 180withBob team was moved to see the incredible loss that our neighbours had suffered. We thought – If we could do it in Marikana, why not in our backyard?
Off we went to Kya Sands a week later to see what we could do. The fire had done damage; there was a smell of despair and defeat, but among all the negative vibes the residents of Kya Sands still had smiles on their faces and queued up accordingly to receive their aid packages from the Gift of the Givers.
Each family was given clothes, food and a blanket. Not much in the eyes of the privileged, but a fortune to the child who has been staring into his mother’s hungry eyes since their home was licked and swallowed by the fire… a fire whose origins are a mystery to them. It’s a story we hear about constantly. Clearly there is a great deal of education that needs to be done around safety and flammable items in the home. But that’s a discussion for another time.
We made it our mission to go back and rally the troops to collect their old clothes, non-perishable food and toys, and went back to Kya Sands a week later with packages in tow. The forlorn faces that we saw when we arrived soon transformed into those of delight and gratitude. Kuli played joyfully with the children (and there are so many – it was as if there were two children under 5 for each household). As we toured around the settlement we discovered people speaking in all 11 official languages. If it’s African, you are bound to find someone who speaks it.
Despite the loss some have experienced at Kya Sands, the neighbourhood has rallied together and have already started to rebuild their lives. What was ironic was finding the Red Ants onsite delivering building material for the residents.
From devastation to sadness to loss, which transformed into excitement, hope and warm neighbourliness, visiting Kya Sand was a reminder of the reality of South Africa’s polarised socio-economic state, and a good kick in the behind that has awoken a spirit within me to get up and make a difference in the lives of the people around me. No matter how big or small. Truer words have never been spoken by none other than Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu says –
“Do your little bit of good where you are; it’s those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world”.