The Great Knysna Fires of 2017 shook South Africa to its core. Citizens across the country stood by helplessly as they watched live footage of the spectacular flames fuelled by storm winds ripping through the Western Cape coastal town and surrounding areas.
The disastrous wildfire of unprecedented proportions devastated the Sedgefield-Knysna-Plettenberg Bay area from 7 – 12 June 2017. Up to 10 000 Knysna residents were forced to flee their homes, vast sections of commercial plantations were lost, and billions of Rands of damage was caused to the area’s infrastructure, agriculture, and properties.
Long after the ruins of the area stopped burning and smouldering, however, a lot of devastation remains.
“Many people think that the Knysna fire happened so long ago that the area must have been rebuilt by now, but the situation is still dire and it is going to take a lot of time to restore this part of the country,” says Mario Ferreira, Programme Manager of a number of projects in the area that are associated with the Gift of the Givers Foundation, the largest disaster relief organisation of African origin on the African continent.
Miss South Africa puts a spotlight on areas of need
Miss South Africa, Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters, who later went on to become Miss Universe in November last year, hails from the Garden Route town of Sedgefield. She has been actively involved in helping local residents who have been left homeless after the fire. By partnering with local aid groups, the Gift of the Givers foundation, and other community organisations, Demi-Leigh has helped put a spotlight on the relief that is needed in the area. She was also the brainchild of the Back a Buddy Foundation, which was the catalyst for a number of relief initiatives.
One company that stepped up to the plate and offered Demi-Leigh and the local residents their support is Global Roofing Solutions. The company contacted the current Miss Universe and the Gift of the Givers Foundation to find out how they could get involved. After assessing the current need in the area, it was decided that Global Roofing Solutions would be donating the sheeting that was needed for a number of projects.
One of the projects that is currently underway is the rebuilding of a shed on an organic farm. A number of local residents and families will benefit from the shed, where they will be employed, receive upskilling opportunities and contribute to organic produce packing before fresh produce gets transported to the market.
“As a truly African country, Global Roofing Solutions can’t sit back and see the communities in which we operate suffer. While it’s only a small step forward in rebuilding some of the coastal towns, we are humbled to be able to contribute in any way possible,” says Shayne Lessing, National Marketing Manager of Global Roofing Solutions.
Ferreira says this isn’t the first time that the roof sheeting manufacturer has gotten involved and donated materials to their projects.
“Global Roofing Solutions has been involved in a number of projects in the area, including the rebuilding of a home, a small restaurant, sheds and workshops,” says Ferreira.
Since the fires, the company has delivered 15 000m² of roofing to the area. Some of the other projects that the company will be involved in in the near future include a community centre and creche. Besides supplying high quality sheeting, the company will also be contributing its experience and expertise to ensure that all of the structures that are built are designed to world-class standards.
“We are very grateful for companies like Global Roofing Solutions. Caring about people starts with providing sustainable solutions, and that is exactly what the people of Sedgefield will be receiving with the new structures that are being built,” concludes Ferreira.