Woman helps farmer with water woes

Teresa Morris and Merweville farmer Hennie Alberts loading life-saving water and food.
A Plattekloof Glen woman has helped to bring some water and even more hope to a drought-stricken Karoo farmer and his neighbours.

Teresa Morris had read about the drought in the Karoo, but it was only when she went shopping at her local supermarket that hey eyes were opened to just how serious it is.

“I saw something that I read about. Buy you never know how bad it really is until you look into a man’s eyes,” she said.

Earlier this month she read that three of Merweville’s six boreholes had dried up, leaving the town’s population of 2 000 with dry taps.

The municipality was investigating where more boreholes could be drilled  and had appealed to Western Cape Provincial Disaster Management and Gift of the Givers for water.

There is no water in the town from 10pm to 5am, and the municipality has asked the community to use no more than 12 kilolitres a month.

At the supermarket, Ms Morris met Hennie Alberts, a Merweville cattle and sheep farmer.

“He was selling purses his wife makes so he can buy water and food to take home to share with his neighbours. He said the past few days they had no water. That they can’t feed their already dying sheep. They cannot bath. They don’t have any running water. Their taps are dry,” said Ms Morris.

She said Mr Alberts had told her the worst part was not being able to ask his neighbours for help because they were all going through the same thing.

Ms Morris, who was with her sister and mother, collected all the cash they had: R510.

“The bags he sells cost R150. I said I would take one. He told me I had paid too much. I told him, ‘No I had paid too little’. This big farmer probably 20 years my senior, started to cry. I hugged him and told him he is not alone. We will get behind you and pray for you and pray with you for rain.”

Ms Morris left him but could not shake the feeling of wanting to help. Returning, she asked what he needed. His response – water.

She promised to help although she had no idea how.

Nevertheless, she went home and posted a message on social media, asking people to donate five-litre bottles of water. She offered to collect them if necessary but had no idea where to store them.

“All I know is that farmers are our source of food and I could not watch them suffer. At the moment, they can’t even feed their families,” she said.
A few days later, the support was “mind-blowing”.

Hers sister, Nadia Jordaan, helped by driving and buying groceries and Iris House Children’s Hospice in Bellville offered to store the water and non-perishable items.

Francois van der Merwe, of Joepies Breakdown Service, collected and delivered 200 five litre bottles that Yusri Samsodien, from Lansdowne-based Aqua Blast, had donated.

On Tuesday November 19, Ms Morris’s family and friends loaded 3.5 tons of water, food and toiletries onto Mr Albert’s truck and trailer. They also handed over R2 800 cash for him to use for whatever they needed.

“It sounds like a lot but shared between 2 000 people it won’t go far. Do the calculations on your own consumption of water per person in a household per day,” she said.

And so the drive continues.