At the moment we are camping at the coast. This time camping is different. There was somebody in the camp who tested positive for Covid and suddenly all of us felt afraid, angry even. We felt we "ran" from home to be peaceful and safe. And suddenly it was shattered. They left after a couple of days and the sigh of relieve was palpable. We survived. It did not spread to anybody else. All of us talked about the Covid and how worried we are. Will South Africa get through this? How many people we know have to die until this is over? We shared stories of how many people have lost their fight against Covid already.
Then the fires started to rage. The news reports of looting and riots started to flood in... and the panic grew in the camp. These uncertain times bring so many emotions and questions. We were hardly coping with the 3rd wave of Covid hitting our country, when lawlessness struck...
Campers started to gather, sharing the information each one had. We were talking about where the riots are. Who will be affected in what way? Who had enough food? Who was safe?
It was quickly apparent who will work for the very best of the whole camping community and who wouldn't. I have a choice where I can focus. I choose to focus on these who will build the community.
We went to the shops yesterday to see if we can find a little bit of food to carry us a little longer in case we cannot go home because of the road closures. Women were in the shop with trolleys, panic buying. They overtly spoke about how scared they were. I went slowly through the aisles, observing what is left and what could be helpful. There wasn't much left anyhow. But what I did feel ample of, was the fear. I bought bits and bobs. Things to tie us over should we need it. I got back into my vehicle and looked at my children and husband. Something was stirring in my heart but I did not have the words yet to express it.
The question started to develop in me: what can I do for my family as the mother of this unit? Three words came up for me - selfcare, honesty and consistency.
Talk, talk, talk about your fears. Take care that you do not become trapped in your own mind with anxiety. Connect with yourself and keep tabs of where your anxiety levels are. Do special things to replenish your energy and take back every ounce of control you do have over your own life.
Gentle honesty can go a long way. Explain to children what is happening in your area. They hear the news when you talk to other adults. That is adult conversations and it can become very scary because it doesn't make sense to our children. Get down to their appropriate level and be kind.
Consistency - the biggest gift you can give your children (and yourself) is sticking with your normal ways of doing things. Stick to the routines and habits you have established. Keep your life as predictable as possible.
In the campsite we are making groups of who needs to leave when. Also we have started to establish points where we can phone to check of the roads are open or not. We decided travelling in numbers are safer than alone. Complete strangers are making plans together to increase everyone's safety.
I am reminded of the beauty of being human, because in the face of adversity, came the unity of taking care of each other. And in that I find solace.