by Tony Copple
Gentlemen readers, cast your mind back to when you visited your girlfriend’s family. The number one goal was to impress them that you were a suitable carer and provider for their daughter. Now hear this recent story of life in Avian Park. Something very bad happened in the house of X, a girl we know and love. Her grandmother tried to start an informal business buying groceries in bulk and selling in smaller quantities to neighbours. I helped them bring the last batch back from Boxer super market- it filled the Mercedes trunk. They had asked me to drive them home at a time that coincided with the final of the Rugby World Cup in Japan; South Africa vs England, and they needed pick up at 11, which happened to be the start of the game, so I wasn’t the most sociable as I tried to get it done fast. Three days later the drug addict boyfriend of X’s sister stole all the stock (and likely any other food in the house) to sell and buy drugs. He accessed the house using a key he stole from her sister.
So then there was no stock to sell and the business probably finished, since there was no money to buy more stock; putting them in a very serious financial position. They reported the boyfriend to the police, and I understand he is no longer the boyfriend. I took them some extra sandwiches and fruit when I went to Avian Park to visit our teenage Bible teachers. The family is bewildered at this outrage. I have got to know this family quite well. X, aged only 14, has exceptional potential, doing very well in school, and has been teaching Sunday school for some time, in addition to other ministry. She is really strong in her faith, praying daily for Laurie-Ann. X begged me not to tell anyone of their misfortune, not even her best friend, who we also know. A day later she messaged Laurie-Ann to say she would rather starve than that other people should hear about their situation.
What is the best thing to do in this situation? First I investigated the soup kitchens of Avian Park; there are many. I happen to know of who is the coordinator for soup kitchens and other good works so I sent her a message, basically asking for a map of where the soup kitchens are and which days they operate. There is no map. The kitchens are for specific groups – we gave out sandwiches in the library for months last year (as part of My Father’s House ministry). Yet this was just for that group of up to 80 children, and funded by My Father’s House. It turned out the other soup kitchens operate in a similar way. They cannot accommodate a whole family rolling up one day expecting to be fed. Second I contacted the person in our church responsible for making up food parcels for needy families in distress in Avian Park.
The week before she had provided me two grocery bags full of staple supplies for one the families of one of our teenaged evangelists, M. But this time I got no answer to my request even after repeating it twice. So the only answer was to do it ourselves, and I collected about $50 worth of staples from Pick n Pay and took them down to the family. Quite a contrast from weeks before when they had been able to buy significant food supplies from their own resources. They had spent all they had on their business venture in good faith. There was no great excitement at receiving this food, just as there had been neither wailing nor gnashing of teeth when the family thief took all their stock. The coloured community is so used to misfortune that they don’t allow themselves to show any joy when something good happens because they expect it to be followed soon enough by something bad, as happened here. However, X did send grateful thanks to Laurie-Ann, and grandmother Z did smile when a dangerous electrical power bar was replaced. My hope was that this would stop them suffering from too much hunger, particularly X; before the next government handout at the beginning of the new month.
A few days after these events, I took X and her grandmother Z to Worcester hospital from where they were transported to a Cape Town hospital where X had been scheduled for serious surgery. As I write this, she has had an MRI and the surgery will be in a few days. Her family will not pay anything, and the care will be world class, although the food is less fancy than what L-A had months ago in Worcester’s private hospital. I mention this because in South Africa if you have no money or possessions, good medical treatment is freely available. South Africa has a huge heart.
On the day I wrote this article, there was a news item on SAFM, the talk radio channel of the national broadcaster. At 1 am this morning near Johannesburg (?) a mother and two of her children were murdered by her 22 year old son, and two other children injured. A police report suggested the son, who is in custody, had demanded money from his mother to buy drugs, and her punishment for refusing was death for her and her children. The connection with my first story is the horrendous power of drugs over a person needing them.
Has anyone reading these ever taken illegal drugs? How did you not know their potential for evil? It permeates the media. Was it not obvious to you that the easiest time to give up drugs is before you ever took them? Many (most?) of the world’s criminals got very rich because people started taking drugs even though the consequences are one of the best known facts on earth. Yet you still did it!!!! If you can answer why, then how can you condemn X’s sister’s friend, or the 22 year old monster. Sorry if this makes you uncomfortable. The time for comfort is long past as this nation of South Africa murders each other faster than all but 13 other nations on earth, and while fortunes are being made right here in Avian Park by dealers selling to people whose capability just to say ‘no thanks’ is around the same as yours. Teach your children never to touch illegal drugs and, while we are at it, not to have sex before marriage, and this world would be changed out of all recognition in a generation, and poverty eradicated.
Tony and Laurie-Ann Copple (usually Laurie-Ann)
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