US$4,390.00raised of $10,000.00 goal
live right beside the Vaal River near a small city in South Africa. Around ten
years ago our home was destroyed by flooding when the river levels rose and
went right over our roof. This happened two years in a row! My parents poured
their hearts into repairing the place and built it up, little by little with
very little money.
Seven years ago they started Serenity - Place of Restoration - a small guesthouse where people could share in the beauty of their spot on the river and also enjoy fishing. With dad being out of work, this became their source of income, starting off with three units - buildings that were already on the property. Over the years my mom and dad have personally continued to make improvements and at the end of last year they completed their sixth unit and added a campsite. They survived through the COVID-19 pandemic after being shut down for three full months and were extremely blessed to be able to continue with the business and even save some of the profits.
My dad is the hardest worker I've ever known and he has welded, repaired, painted and created every single thing at Serenity with his own hands. From building the new chalets, designing and building a beautiful steel gate at the main entrance, down to the smallest precision details like making toilet-roll holders to give Serenity that personal touch. Last year he built two new fishing decks and a week after completion, the river levels rose again, causing them to get damaged, but my dad didn't give up. He repaired them and we carried on with the business.
From last December until April this year, the river levels remained higher than usual and our fishing decks were under water for most of that time, causing our business to slow down. The winter months were also very quiet and then a few months ago, my dad was diagnosed with two aneurisms. We used most of our savings for the medical expenses. We are grateful that we HAD savings and that we've managed to stay afloat through what has been a rather difficult year financially. We have been looking forward to our December season with many bookings in order to bring us a decent income again...
On November 14, the river came up dramatically after the Vaal dam had opened 8 sluice gates in one day due to heavy and unexpected rainfalls. We had to evacuate not only my parent's house, but four guesthouse units as well. One cannot imagine how much hard work it is to evacuate five building’s worth of contents within only a few hours! Every guesthouse unit is like a small house and my parent’s house is filled with furniture and sentimental items that they have collected over the past twenty years. With the help of some great friends, our five workers and ourselves, we managed to save all of our belongings. We are also blessed that our electricity supply is not yet under water and we can therefore still carry on with power and water. My parents have moved into one of our two chalets that are higher up so they are ok for now. At this stage we have no idea when the river level will drop as it is only the beginning of the rainy season and after the traumatic experience of evacuating for the third time during our time at Serenity (and remembering the long, exhausting and intense experience of the big clean up afterwards! The river leaves thick, black, slimy mud behind which takes days to shovel away and walls stained and wooden flooring destroyed) we decided that perhaps it's time to do things differently.
We have decided that it will be better to build three new units further up - away from the flood line, to avoid being in such a situation in future. The original building has been affected by the water so many times, that it still contains moisture and no amount of paint can cover the damage that begun ten years ago. My dad has tried everything to keep the place at a good standard but some damage is simply irreparable.
We have had to give every client who has booked for the rest of the year, a refund. As it stands, our savings are depleted and our bank account is now empty. As this is the only income that my parents have, and after all the hard work they've already done at Serenity, we would like to ask for any donations towards the rebuilding of Serenity as well as helping my family get through the next few months while the business is closed.
We know that Serenity is not just a home for us, but also a home for the people who have stayed here in the past as well as creating jobs for our five employees. We would be heartbroken to let it go.
How we will use the funds:
1. To buy food and cover our daily expenses as a family
2. To keep our employees paid
3. To refund the clients we have been unable to refund
4. To clean up and repair the property once the water has subsided
5. To build three new units further up to avoid being in the same situation ever again
* Some of the photos are
from the terrible flood from thirteen years ago and its aftermath - to give you an
idea of what a mess the water leaves behind. There are also some photos of when
Serenity has been in it's prime - to showcase how beautiful my parents have made
the place. It was built up from nothing - buildings, grounds and gardens.
Michelle - daughter of Wally and Dominique and manager of Serenity
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