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The Story Weaver...

                                           telling Prince Albert’s stories since 2002

                                                                                           May 2020

I had thought that being in lockdown would result in some rest, introspection and a focus on the here and now, but it has led to increased activity, community growth and has, happily, brought the world to our doorsteps! 

 

The PACT feeding scheme for children run from the POP centre is one example. For each of three years, groups of Belgian teachers-in-training, have come to do practical work at local schools. This year the students had to head home as lockdown loomed and once there, they rallied the groups from previous years, sending €1000 to the feeding fund. Readers of this newsletter in Europe and the UK added their support and many locals and former residents gave financial assistance. As the number of children grew the project featured on TV news and in a Sunday newspaper, generating more funds. Naaim Briesies  and his team of young volunteers have maintained social distancing among the children, who now number around 500, have taught them how to wash their hands and watched these little ambassadors teach their parents about hygiene measures to keep the virus at bay.  This has been a tremendous community building experience for everyone involved and many little tummies have been kept full. The school feeding schemes re-opened two weeks into lockdown and the POP Centre has been able to supplement the schools’ provisions. Support is still gratefully received see photos and information on the PACT web page!

The community stepped forward again when essential workers at the supermarket, the Co-op, garages and spaza shops and the POP Centre volunteers were supplied with fabric masks made by ladies from the Thursday Group, which raises funds for charity through their White Elephant stall and a secondhand clothing shop. A recognition of a vital need led to ladies all over town joining a sewing campaign which has, at last count, produced over 2000 masks for free distribution. Farmers wives have created piles of masks for their farm labourers too.

Residents and staff at Huis Kweekvallei our local retirement home; local municipal workers; various service delivery staff and teachers involved with the school feeding schemes were provided with masks and thirty-five were delivered to the Prince Albert police station, with police at Leeu-Gamka and Klaarstroom receiving theirs a week later. Even the local Emergency Medical Services team were given fabric masks when they indicated that their disposable masks were running low. My neighbour has undertaken to make masks for all the children attending the PACT feeding scheme, an incredible labour of love.

All the fabric has been donated, we quickly ran out of elastic and bias binding so old sheets were turned into tapes and several crocheters started churning out ties. In the fourth week permission was granted for ladies from local sewing projects to be employed to make masks, generous donations have ensured that they can earn some income in these difficult times. Work continues and we reckon that when we include those residents who have made masks for themselves and their neighbours, some 3000 people across the district are now covered. Mask-making continues in true Prince Albert spirit!

Below: crocheted mask ties

Supporting local businesses, wherever you are will be vital to economic recovery. Our SPAR supermarket staff have been fantastic in keeping people and pets fed and in creating a small sense of normalcy with background music and colourful well-stocked shelves. I can walk round the corner to The Lazy Lizard, which has metamorphosed into a general dealer/fruit and veg shop which also bakes bread and sells Gay’s Dairy products. Our Karoo Butcher has kept braaiers happy, our aquaponics farmer is supplying salad greens, O for Olive can be contacted for couriered deliveries across the land (info@oforolive.co.za). Our Prinskem pharmacy staff deserve a special mention. Elsofé and her team have kept us supplied with chronic medicines, compassion and smiles. With restaurants opening for home deliveries today and our Renu-Karoo nursery able to sell veggie punnets and garden esentials, several small businesses will now be able to generate some income.

On Sundays those living near the Dutch Reformed Church now have a ‘service’ with a difference. The NG Kerk bells ring out, someone speaks a few gentle words and then broadcasts hymns and music from the tower for ten minutes. Last Sunday would have been ds Chris Brier’s last service before retirement and we are very sorry not to have been able to give him a proper send-off.

Every day at 12 noon the Angelus is rung on the bell at St John's Anglican Church in Bank Street, a prayer for protection and healing and a peal of hope for the community. Thanks go to our lay minister Willem Hinkman for this ‘service.’ 

I am teaching on-line and my days are pretty busy but one of the ways I relax during lockdown is with on-line yoga classes offered by the yoga studio I attend. Simply Saffron classes are a regular weekday respite, where our sensitive, experienced teachers, Ridwaan and Hermon, provide exercise and meditation and insight into how to breathe. The classes started with local participants but now we have yogis on the Garden Route, in Johannesburg and in Scotland, Germany and Austria. Hermon shared how he summited Kilimanjaro, first of the ten groups heading up, relying on his deep, regular yoga breathing and since doctors are telling us how important correct, deep breathing is to alleviate Corona virus symptoms, they are teaching us a valuable skill. You can contact the Yogi Boys at simplysaffronprincealbert@gmail.com if you'd like to sign on for classes conducted through zoom.

Time for a Prince Albert story… some months ago a local guesthouse owner came on my Ghost Walk. It soon became clear that she was picking up vibes at certain sites and last week she phoned to tell me about a new sighting in Kerkstraat. 

“I was heading for our gate and saw a lady standing outside, under a gum tree. It only registered as I started to turn into the drive that she was wearing Victorian, perhaps Edwardian clothing and a large hat held on with a scarf. As I looked more closely, she smiled at me and then faded away. Is there a story about that part of town?”  Not one I know, but I am happy to know the lady smiles.

There is a beautiful, Victorian house just up the road, that used to be called The Palms, where a friend of mine lived during the last pandemic to sweep the world from 1918 to 1920. I spoke about Betty Featherhead’s visits to Oom Gawie Beukes’ bioscope in my December 2018 newsletter.  Another story Betty told me was how her mother, Florence Luttig, accompanied the local NG Mission Church minister to nurse and feed the sick in his congregation when the Spanish Flu hit the village. They would set out on his motorbike and side-car and when the children heard it returning they would quickly run into the house. Mother would change from her clothes in an outhouse, washing with carbolic soap and putting on fresh clothing before she came in. Betty and her siblings wore garlic bags around their necks to dispel the ‘germs’ and spent some days stuffing herbs and straw into mattress ticking, making beds for sick people. The local hotelier turned his kitchen over to making soup for the villagers. 

The photo was taken on Betty's 100th birthday in 2006

Betty also told me a lovely story about her mother’s attempts, as a new bride, to learn Dutch. Florence had come out from England to look after her sister, Dr Stephenson’s wife, while she was confined to bed during a pregnancy. A young farmer, one Samuel Luttig, would hover outside the Anglican Church of St John’s at the end of services to walk Florence home. Of course this led to courtship and marriage.  Florence would practice speaking Dutch and Samuel would laugh at her - I am sure very lovingly. She persevered until one day she told him “Ek het jou boude gestryk…”  (I have ironed your thighs) instead of "broek" (trousers). His mirth was too much for her and from then on she spoke only English and their children grew up ‘tweetalig” (bi-lingual).

Speaking of marriage, on 20 April JJ & Amanda le Roux celebrated their first wedding anniversary. What a wonderful experience their wedding was for the friends and relatives who accompanied them on a walk in and out of the Swartberg Pass and joined in their sunrise ceremony which I conducted on the Dansbaan. I hope JJ & Amanda will be able to return to Eerstewater before too much longer.

In closing, the Prince Albert Friend has been reporting local news since 1912. This month the publication team compiled a digital version which is available here. If you want an insight into our community and a jolly good read, pay us a visit through the pages of the Prince Albert Friend. You can see photos of all the Belgian students who have supported the PACT feeding scheme there too!

Take care, stay home, walk when you can, keep to social distancing and wear those masks!

True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost.

ARTHUR ASHE

My Ghost Walks and Historical Rambles will resume one day...
if you are curious about my walks or have already joined me and would like to comment you can do so here!

When travel is back to normal and you plan your visit to Prince Albert, remember you can
 find your accommodation here.

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The Story Weaver

Prince Albert

Tel: 023 5411 211  e-mail: story@storyweaver.co.za

www.storyweaver.co.za

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