Sunday, May 19, 2013
People who I have met this week.
An Afrikaans woman who is working in a factory. Her life has recently been turned upside down because her husband has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. He also worked for the same company as her. Overnight their income has been halved as he is unable to work so she is now the breadwinner. They have teenage children at High School - one on the verge of going to university whose dreams are about to be dashed as there is now no money to pay his fees. From what she tells me - with tears welling in her eyes - her husband is deeply depressed and has withdrawn completely from life. His shaking is really bad when he is awake so he just wants to sleep...forever! He doesn't want to go anywhere or do anything and if people visit he hides away. She has been waiting for 6 weeks for an appointment with a therapist assigned to him. Through all this she comes to work day, afternoon and night shift AND attends classes. I am in awe of her strength.
A police officer who confided that his job has cost him his marriage, his health and at times his sanity. He has devoted his life to a uniform and a badge and has encountered shocking crime scenes and been shot at more times than he can remember. He rejected the concept of being debriefed or seeking counselling after incidents, as being 'soft'. Instead he used alcohol as anesthetic and although he has now overcome that dependency he regrets that he has only realised too late that he put his career before what was really important to him and is unable to undo the hurt he caused his wife and children - he is currently trying to mend the relationship with his son and daughter and I really hope that all turns out well for him - a really lovely man.
A young divorced mother who is afraid that she is going to lose the 'temporary' job she has if she asks for the overtime pay that is owed to her. She was depending on that money to buy her son his winter school uniform because the school is giving him a hard time that he is not wearing it and there is no extra money from the little she earns. She worked the extra hours demanded of her and was promised and entitled to overtime rate - when she 'dared' to ask for it, she was told she was lucky to have a job and is frightened to ask again. When she is on night shift she has to leave her son alone overnight - he is 11. She worries the whole night and prays that he will be alright. I am outraged by the unfairness of this situation and my heart aches for her.
An African man about to give up on a qualification that his company insisted he attend, because he has fallen so far behind with his work - Why? He has been working 12 hour and sometimes 18 hour days because his company have retrenched half the workforce and expect the same output. He would give up his studies which are clearly difficult to continue with,but if he does he will have to repay the money that the company have paid for his course fees. A catch-22 situation - either way he loses. We sat and planned a way to continue.
A reminder that we all have problems - some more than others - but what makes these people different is that they have determination and a will to do whatever it takes to improve their chances of a better future. Whenever I feel like giving up - these are the people - and all the others like them that I encounter - that keep me going. Inspiring indeed!