Elsabe's Life Fund

Elsabe met Dawie when she was 18. Dawie was there to support her when she lost both her parents in a car accident when she was 20. They married when she was 22, and raised four wonderful kids (one of whom I'm married to). They supported each other through the death of their youngest son in a motorbike accident in 2013. In 2017 they were living a peaceful life in Knysna where Dawie was employed post-retirement as the caretaker of an estate. They lived in a small house on the estate where the memories of their 52 years of marriage and raising four kids, now with grandkids, were crammed into every available corner.

On the fateful day of June 7th, 2017 raging wildfires swept through Knysna. Elsabe and Dawie were together at the house when they received the evacuation orders. The situation was so dire that Elsabe did not even have time to grab her wedding rings. They bundled the estate dogs in the car and were stopped at a safer distance from the fire to help coordinate the farm workers' evacuation from another location when Dawie clutched his chest and fell to the ground. Elsabe was desperately trying to resuscitate him when some good Samaritans stopped to help her. Someone told her that her husband had unfortunately passed away and nothing could be done for him, but they needed to keep moving from the fire that had come closer in the meantime. Traumatized, Elsabe managed to walk with others in the freezing weather to a nearby lagoon, and when that location became unsafe they walked on the beach to the next town.

Cell towers were burnt down, local telephones lines were down, the power was out, and the roads to neighboring towns closed. When her kids eventually got to her and they returned to check on the house a few days later it was burnt to the ground. She had the clothes she was wearing to her name, and her loving husband of 52 years, the father of their children and grandfather of their grandchildren was gone.

Elsabe needs funds to take care of immediate needs and live out the rest of her life. She is hoping to be able to retire in Pretoria near her eldest daughter. Can you please help? Any amount is welcome. Thank you.


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Elma van der Ryst 
Los Angeles, CA
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