Major disaster in the Free state!
We got a urgent call for assistance from an organization in Hoopstad that obtained our number from a “Dominee” in the district asking if we could render assistance to farmers in the Boshof and Hertzogville district that fell victim to enormous veld fires, that have engulfed almost 180 000ha destroying everything in its path.
As this is a disaster our mandate require us to respond immediately and without prejudice as during a declared disaster, we at Pediatric care Africa no longer distinguish between adults and children any longer, and focus on the community as a whole.
Three days after receiving the call for assistance we sat of to the Hertzogville district loaded with 2.7 tons of non-perishable food and a large quantity of OTC medicines from The Local Choice Pharmacy Village to bring relief to those effected. We were accompanied by Marna Coetzee representing the Laevelder / Lowvelder newspaper and she is also accredited with the photos we are using. Thank you Marna!
We were told beforehand that around 1800 livestock was burned to death and that homes, stores and wheat fields were destroyed, nevertheless what we saw was difficult to comprehend and get your head around, simply due to the absolute vast scale of the disaster and the many farmers and their families affected by it.
According to Gys Olivier the head of the farmers union for Hertzogville 180 000ha was destroyed which comprise of 130 large commercial farms and a large number of smaller farms something in the region of 400 farmers were affected. Gys told us that due to the cloudy conditions the satellite photos could not be completed and that he expect the hectarage destroyed to be much larger.
We were asked to meet in Hertzogville 2 hours before the emergency farmers meeting was to begin, so we could arrange the numerous technical details of how food donations would be distributed and safely stored etc. and it was agreed that all donations will be made directly to the Hertzogville farmers union who possesses the storage facilities and that the distribution will be done by the “Vroue Vereeniging-vroue liga” who have the local knowhow and vehicles to distribute food and medicine to all persons requiring assistance.
I asked a farmer in his mid-thirties how he was doing and if he was also effected by the fire and his eyes welled up with tears and he choked up to the extend that he could only turn around and walk away. It turned out that he lost absolutely everything on his farm including all his equipment and buildings……
His story represents many farmers in the disaster area.
When we hear veld fire, we assume that the grass burnt and after the first rain all will be honkey dory and life will carry on as before……How very wrong we are to assume that.
For a typical farmer he lost his livestock, his fences, his water tanks his wheat fields that was a few weeks away from harvest, together with the centre pivot on it and the list goes on and on….
Game farmers, wheat farmers and livestock farmers are all going to feed any animals that may be left for at least a year, as according to Gys Olivier it will completely destroy the fields if any livestock is put on it.
We are very proud that we as a small NGO was asked for help and are very grateful to all the persons and organizations that donated so generously that we were able to rush to their assistance.
This is only the beginning of the farmers fight for survival and we are adamant that we will do anything and everything possible to assist them, their families and the thousands of their staff that is dependent on them.
We aim to return every 3 weeks until New year with food and whatever they may need, as other organizations are tackling their livestock feed emergency, but for Pediatric care Africa to be able to feed and supply a sustainable medical service to our farmers in peril, we ask you the public for assistance please.
Anything from a bag of sugar to funds is urgently required please?
Please help us if you consider our cause a worthwhile one.
Visit our website https://www.pediatriccareafrica.org/ to see how you can help https://www.pediatriccareafrica.org/take-action-now/
Or send a whatsapp or phone 076 299 5663 and our offices will assist you.