This series has gotten off to a great start! I’m loving how many South Africans still have such a positive outlook when it comes to how we see things pan out for us in South Africa.
I love it that the majority of us are still full of faith and hope.
Today we are hearing from Shelley (my sister-in-law) who has been back in South Africa for 3 years after spending 7 years living in the UK. Both her and my brother (who have two gorgeous little girls together) are ONE HUNDRED PERCENT sure that coming back to South Africa was the right decision for them.
* Where were you born and have you always lived in South Africa? Or are you living abroad now?
I was born in Durban, I lived in the same house my whole life until I finished school. At which time I went to Holland to au pair, and while I loved the adventure I loved coming home even more. After finishing my studies I went over to London to chase the love of my life. I lived there for 7 years, got married and had both my children there, but there was never a moment that I didn’t consider South Africa as home and after 7 years, we were elated to finally return.
* How old are your children?
I have two beautiful girls, aged 5 and 3.
* Were you living here during the apartheid years and the 1994 elections? Were you feeling hopeful for our nation then?
I was living here during the elections but being 12 at the time I’m not sure I had many thoughts or opinions on what was happening, I was more interested in the mock election our school organized. It was only as I entered high school that I started to realize the significance of what had happened.
* How are you feeling about our country now? What are some of your very real fears and concerns?
I love South Africa in fact I don’t know a single person, here or who has emigrated who would not say the same. Yes it is beautiful and the sun shines most of the time and that is great, but you can get that in a lot of places around the world. There is something about South Africa that is more than just its spectacular beauty – The people of South Africa make it special, having travelled to many places around the world I have never been met with the warmth, depth and openness that I have experienced in South Africa.
Having said that, I’d have to be living in a bubble if I said I wasn’t worried. The crime, yes, I fear it, though potentially not as much as others, I guess ignorance is bliss. But more so I am worried about our financial future, the state of our government agencies, electricity shortages, water shortages, produce shortages. We have recently bought a home, one we extended ourselves to buy, I worry that it’s going to break us financially if there is one more interest rate hike. However I am very aware that we are a privileged family and we have a lot more than many.
* How do these feelings affect your family and your day-to-day life? Are you anxious about their future?
These feelings obviously affect day-to-day life, the strain of these worries present themselves in dealings with our children, however I know that my kids are happy, they are free and they are happy. I am not worried about their future as I know we will do whatever we can to ensure that their future is as safe as it can be, we will make a plan, we trust in God and we live in hope. I don’t want to leave, I don’t plan to leave and it would take major crises to get me to leave.
* What are some of the things you know you will never be able to find anywhere else in the world, the things that would make it hard to leave?
I would say family, but I know if I left it would be because they left too, I would miss the feeling of home, the feeling of belonging and though we have many trouble and have had to face far too much inequality, there is something about the unity of South African people, when there is something worth standing for our people stand together. I would miss these things if I left.
* Have you ever been a victim of crime?
I haven’t, and I pray that I won’t be but I am acutely aware of the crime in this country, and though I will try not to live in fear, I will also do all I can to protect my family.
* Do you still have faith in South Africa, that with new leaders we could see a drastic change? What other dreams do you have for our country?
Of Course I wouldn’t still be here without faith, without hope. I am not naÃ¯ve, I know it will take a long time but my hope is that my children will be adults who get to see real change in South Africa, that they will not forget about the past, but it will not be to the detriment of their country but rather it will be the very thing that gives South Africa its strength.
* What are the lessons you want to teach your kids and how do you think staying or leaving will channel those lessons?
Things don’t necessarily just land in our laps but when we work for them they are the sweetest treasures. People are important and giving of ourselves is the greatest gift we can give. I don’t think there is a better place than South Africa for them to learn these things.
*How do you think we can teach our children to be hopeful and positive while still teaching them to cautious living in a place that isn’t always safe? (Without putting fear in their hearts and minds.)
Our language is important, children hear everything, I try to watch how I say things in front of my children, but that does not mean I keep them in the dark. Our children watch the news with us, and we explain it in language they understand. We show our children the wonders of living in South Africa, socialize with people from all the wonderful cultures that make up our land, we are compassionate to the poor and loving to those in need of love. At the same time I would educate my child about crossing the road, I would also teach them not to open the door to strangers, or to lock their car doors, we simply educate them as this is part of our role as their parents.
Thanks Shelly for sharing and for your openness and eagerness to see change. I’m sure many moms and dads reading this will be encouraged to see things from your perspective. It always serves as a wonderful reminder to hear from someone who left and came back!
Don’t forget, if you or someone you know would like to share their story and thoughts on the subject please email me! firstname.lastname@example.org