Photo credit: Jonathan A de Klerk (my one and only son)
My name is Danette.
This is my reality.
This is my story …
I am a (almost) 50 years old, divorced, unemployed, homeless, female South African citizen, living in my car together with my youngest son and 2 Yorkshire terriers.
We are alive therefore we are thankful. Not for LIFE as such, but for having each other.
Since 2013, after returning to South Africa from the United Arab Emirates after a 3 year, unsuccessful marriage to a South African expat working and living in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates, my son and I have been fighting to keep head above water.
Our divorce proceedings took 3 (three) years to be finalized, during which time I did not receive financial support from my (then legal) husband even though I was a “housewife” during the entire duration of our marriage. Without a job or any income, it was very hard to “start over”. I had 2 choices: Give up or fight with all my might to survive the storm.
With the financial support of a friend residing in the USA, we managed to rent a small apartment for ourselves with hopes of finding an income to keep up with the monthly payments.
Our little home had no furniture. The landlord gave us curtains to cover the windows, another friend gave us a mattress and another gave us 2 blankets and a pillow each. Yet is was HOME. OUR home.
All hopes and dreams were shattered into a billion pieces when we lost it all! Finding a job was impossible considering that I have not worked for years, had no means of transport to get from A to B and had no financial means to sign up for any kind of course that could enable me to get back into the corporate world.
Once again a friend helped us to get another place to stay, he even helped us get a few pieces of furniture. We had a HOME again.
My son and I started working on set as tv/movie extras to generate an income. Sill without transport, we battled to get on set and relied on others at a rate of R60 per person per day. At the time we earned between R120 and R150 per day individually, sometimes up to 12 hours per day on set, depending on the number of calls we got. Also depending on whether we could get transport to the different locations. This income was just enough to buy our basic food.
At this point my son also started working at a restaurant as a “runner”, delivering take-away’s to customers. He was paid R60 per day. After transport deductions for him to get to work and back, he would have R20 per day left. Enough for half a loaf of bread an a little milk.
But we had each other. We had our dreams. We had hope. We had a HOME even though the stress of trying to keep up with the payments and meeting our essential daily needs were exhausting and started taking its toll on my health.
But … even with the financial support from my friend in the USA, we simply could not keep up with the payments, daily basic expenses and once again we lost our home and everything we had.
A guy whom I considered a friend at the time offered that we move in with him – no strings attached – until we can find our feet somehow. I should have known NOTHING comes without a price tag, but I was desperate. My son was still studying at the time and I needed to somehow provide him with a “base” from where he could continue with his studies. Eventually we had to move out though because I could no longer “sell my soul” for a roof over our heads.
And so the viscous cycle continued – moving from one lace to the other, giving my trust to everyone in spite of red flags, accepting ANY help we could possibly get, continuously job hunting without any luck, accepting freelance work – anything to try and make ends’ meat – but somehow got screwed over and over again by not getting paid.
My divorce became final after a 3 year battle. I ended up settling for a lump sum of R 150k. With this settlement I bought myself a cheap secondhand car, helped my daughter and grandchild financially as they were going through financial difficulty as well and she was also pregnant at the time and paid veterinary bills for an operation done on my Yorkie to save his leg.
Having nothing to offer again, I was back to “surviving the swamps” again, working freelance for a South African artist, selling artwork on commission, proofreading and editing her book, getting it ready for publication. Once again I did not get paid.
My American friend kept helping financially as much as he could, but without a source of income it was impossible to be able to pay for a place to stay as well. We needed to eat to be able to stay alive.
Family … yes, I have blood relatives – not family. I am only “family” when I have something to give.
So – at the end of the day it is only myself, my son and my 2 Yorkies. They are my Family!
Living in my Hyundai Atos prime.
I have given up on asking for help. I have given up on humanity. I have given up on believing that somewhere out there in this life is a place for us to just have a “normal” life. A Life with purpose.
My health is deteriorating as each day passes. Maybe this is a good thing? It should take off at least a few years from this miserable life on earth.
I will be 50 years old on the 7h of March and I am TIRED! Broken. Stripped from all hope in humanity. I have so much to give, but continuously running into walls has broken my spirit. At an age where most people really start living, I’d rather welcome DEATH.
This is NOT what LIFE is suppose to be.