I recently reconnected with an old friend after 20 years. Catching up revealed a difficult and challenging story. She lost her parents in two separate tragic events when she was 21. She married and has two beautiful, truly wonderful, children aged 17 and almost 21. She recently divorced because her ex-husband suffers from bipolar disorder that remained undiagnosed until two years ago. Circumstances were tough and, although divorced, this family unit stayed in the same household. Bipolar disorder caused significant trauma to the entire family, including the children’s father. They lost everything they had (again and again). The son has moved 27 times in his 17 years on this planet, and the constant moving has meant that the children’s schooling has been disrupted. The Covid pandemic escalated her husband’s bipolar disorder and circumstances at their home became untenable.
I felt the need to give everyone a fair chance – a chance for her ex husband to seek the help he needs, and for these children to sort out their education, and for my friend to piece together her life. On 1 April my friend and her children woke in their old house in Cape Town and went to bed in our house in Pretoria. On that day we went from a two-person, one-dog family to a five-person, two-dog family. It has been an interesting journey, a roller coaster ride for all of us. For the first week or so we were shell-shocked as the reality of their life was revealed, but amazingly, through all of this, there was no shortage of love in these incredible children’s home. Unfortunately there were other consequences. Like the fact that there had been no money for things that many of us take for granted – like visits to the dentist.
I would like these beautiful and talented children to have a bright future: One with choices. One that matches their potential, but will never be realised if they are not able to complete their education backlog and deal with their current health issues. I would like the new “daughter” in our house to know that she is a strong and independent woman who can control her destiny. I would like our new “son” to know that he can be anything he want to be, if he believes in himself. I would like their mother to have the opportunity to sustain herself and her family, and to make her own decisions and be the master of her own destiny. They just need this chance to find their talents, to know what they are good at.
Unfortunately our household income cannot address the remedial actions that are urgently needed. Who was to know that we would be confronted with a massive dental bill for about R60 000? That we would need home schooling, GED’s, textbooks, computer repairs (just to get on with the schooling) and exam fees. That will be another R40 000. And then we would also like to clear my friend’s debt so that she can have a clean start to her new life. These liabilities are the cost of her divorce, and the occupational therapist that assisted with her son. That will be another R20 000.
In our household there is not a moment of regret for taking this big step. It is without question the right thing to do, but the immediate cost of putting three amazing people back on the right track is insurmountable for us right now. We appeal for any contributions that can help us to get through this moment of crisis. The contributions are done via PayPal. If you prefer to do an EFT, you are welcome to contact me and we can make alternative arrangements.