A Visit to Sutherland

You turn off the N1 coming from Touws Rivier, the 110km drive from here is beautiful, serene and scenic; no sign of life, no vehicle on the road, just peace and magnificent scenery. We enter Sutherland, a large group of hopeful farmers are gathered around the two Gift of the Givers trucks that brought fodder from Free State and the third truck contracted by us bringing cotton from the Kimberley area.

The gathering commences with all of us holding hands and a prayer is said out aloud acknowleding the Supreme Being manifesting His Mercy through yet another load of life giving fodder for suffering, hungry animals who cannot verbalise their own difficulty. The gratitude is visible in the farmers eyes, the look in their faces, the warmth of their handshake and even in their silence. The love for their animals is visibly manifest. In a disciplined manner everyone falls in line, patiently awaiting their turn as our three trucks start offloading their precious cargo. The Gift of the Givers drivers haven't slept a wink driving through. They are acutely aware of the urgency of the intervention. Their fortitude, resilience and determination to serve as a credit to them as individuals. With big smiles they load the bales on to bakkies. This is not about Black and White or them and us or Christian and Muslim, it is about our humanity, acknowledging our diversity, holding hands together because we are ALL South African. The farm labourers receive their food parcels. They accept with quiet dignity. The school children collect their stationery with beaming smiles, the teacher says they've never received such a big gift ever. That smile conceals an underlying tragedy - many of these children are victims of foetal alcohol syndrome. Their capacity to progress is limited. We came here to deal with drought, a natural phenomenon, but are witnesses to human induced destruction in the form of unchecked alcohol consumption. We can but only pray for beneficial rain, mindfulness and responsible human behaviour.

Next stop Beaufort West to visit Oom Gideon (Dr Gideon Groenewald), specialist hydrologist, appointed by Gift of the Givers, to find underground water and save the town. The signs are very good, there is a positive ring to his voice, from 24 000 litres per day we are now at 280 000 litres per day with potential for substantially more. The search continues.

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