Recently, South Africa has experienced horrendous floods in South Africa. Femada Shaman, CEO of an organization in Durban, South Africa called Tafta and a Global Ageing Network Board member shared her recent experience with the resilience and support of the Tafta staff to their residents.
It has been a really difficult two weeks. The floods have resulted in the loss of many, many lives and caused massive damage to infrastructure. There is no single person in my circle that has been untouched by the devastation.
As we scrambled to ensure that the residents in our facilities remained safe and protected, we were also acutely aware of the reality that many of the staff had lost their homes and others were facing the reality of the cleanup post the floods. There is mud, water and debris all around.
We have the most amazing people working at TAFTA as through their own trauma and loss, they still pitched up!!. One of our cleaning staff had her home swept away by the floods and was being accommodated in the local community centre. She arrived at work, in soaked clothes still wanting to fulfil her role because the elders are close to her heart. Thankfully, our building supervisor could get her some dry clothes and got her wet ones into the dryer. I cannot begin to imagine how it feels to lose ones house and home but still being able to remain focused on the care and support of another.
The reality now is the coping with the aftermath; interruption in the supply of water and electricity, destruction of the roads, disruption in the supply chain and communications. We pivot between crises; one day it was no water at a care facility housing just under 100 people and scrambling to get bottled water, borehole water etc. to keep operations going and the next its rallying the troops as we try to locate a resident from our fit accommodation facility who went missing for two days. We eventually located the resident in hospital.
We are reminded everyday that our wellbeing is intricately intertwined with the wellbeing of others. Our African concept of Ubuntu “I am because we are” captures this beautifully and upon reflection, I know that it is in the simplicity of this philosophy that we draw our resilience.
We also take time to acknowledge the brilliance in small actions of our staff members. A quick example.. we unfortunately live in a time of increased crime and this was even before the floods. Through the devastation, the criminal elements have seized the opportunity to capitalise of the misfortune of others. Just outside our head office, we have had three of our older residents held up for their cell phones and personal belongings and two staff members attacked as they rolled down the windows of their cars to press the access buttons to the garages. One of our maintenance staff members was so concerned about the safety of his colleagues in the building (about 60 people) that he arrives at work half an hour everyday and stands as “guard” as the staff enter. Its these small acts of incredible kindness that fuels our resolve to be better and do more.
Thank you for the offer of support. Prayers and healing vibes are always welcome. You can also support our relief efforts financially through the following link https://www.tafta.org.za/donate/
Tafta is a nonprofit organization with 13 residential buildings, three of which are care homes and four are assisted living. They also serve many in the broader community through meals on wheels and other services. All of their services are provided at no cost, supported by the government, foundations and donations.