Some of the Knysna Families in Need

Below are some of the stories that we have been given permission to share. We will continue to add them as they come in. Some of the families that we are helping have asked not to be published and we have respected their wishes.

The Rossouws

My husband, Shawn called me at 16h40 and asked me to return home from work as the fire was approaching our neighborhood. As I drove home, I saw the flames a few meters away from our house. My family and I had 5-10 minutes to grab what we could to evacuate to safety. What we didn’t know is that our entire house burned down 20 minutes later. Thankfully we managed to safely evacuate our 2 dogs, 2 cats, 2 kids and important documents. When we returned the following morning… the aftermath awaited us. Everything we build up over the years burned to the ground. We lost everything sentimental to us and that breaks my heart as it is impossible to gain the moments back, of what your child looked like at birth or the piano that was handed down in the family for 5 generations.

The Smiths

Our beloved family lost everything in the flames. Matty & Kyle Smith recent parents to baby Kane (2 months old!) bought their house 4 years ago. It needed much work and together with Matty's father they turned the place around! Blood sweat and tears went into building the perfect family home and now it's all gone!! Matty, Kyle their son Kane & their family hounds Simola & Divot are currently being housed with their parents in a neighbouring town.

The Nyathis

Try & his wife, Witness Nyathi, along with their 4 sons lost their home and all their belongings in the fire. They both work so hard to support their other family members back in Malawi. At the start, Try only wanted some blankets for his family to keep them warm at night. He is such an incredibly humble man.

The Deyzel Brothers

We rented the house from other people so we were not insured. My brother was working for Niqua security then, and me at a carpet shop in Knysna. I just got back from work the night of the fire, then we saw the fire in the bottom of the garden so all we had time for was to grab my dog and my laptop. We also managed to save one bag of cloths. We had no where else to go so my boss offered us the company flat for a while till we can get something again. We had just bought a new fridge and washing machine then two weeks later it all gets burned with a fire. We went back the next day and all that was left was the zink of the roof everything else just gone. We tried to see if there was anything left we can maybe take but there was no luck. I wish i got of earlier that day from work then i could have saved more things from the house. The worst part of it all was we did a lot of shopping then got home saw the fire and did not even think of taking the groceries.


My name is Shelley O'Moore, I am 38 and lost everything I own in the fires on Thursday 8 June 2017. I lived with a housemate, four dogs and a cat, our lives have changed forever but life begins again for us, we are safe and alive.. What was once my normal every day, is gone.. I have to find a new every day, a new normal. . I have had someone bless me with a place to call home for 6 months to begin with, which is what we need to rise and become whole again! The help,love and support has been overwhelming and words cannot even to begin to describe just how grateful we are. It's difficult to comprehend just how much you have lost until you start to cook, clean, wash etc. We need to make a house a home again, with your help we can do that! I urge you to support the voucher system being offered, it will make it easier to go out and get what it's needed as time goes by, this initiative is an amazing one and I believe each and every one of us will benefit from it!
It's hard to imagine a new beginning when the end was so tragic but with your help, love and support I believe we can move forward knowing we are not alone.

The Van Zyls

Van Zyl
Upon returning from a playdate with my two little boys from the opposite side of town... There was this unsettling feeling in the pit of my stomach staring into the enormous cloud of smoke that seemed to be growing bigger and creeping closer with every passing minute...yet, I had full confidence that everything was under control... Having every intention of getting home to get a pot of soup on the stove and delivered to the fire station...non of us the wiser as to what was about to go down in the next hour or so...
My hubby was still making his way back from George and due to a low battery.. keeping in touch became next to impossible.. Murphy's Law I guess..
I tried to settle the boys all the while preparing the soup but could not refrain from constantly running back onto our deck to check on that cloud of smoke.. I tried to stay as calm as possible... For my boys sake, but decided to pack an overnight bag for us...just in case, you know?!...
Upon emerging from our bedroom 5 min later, I was rattled at what I saw..a wave of flames enveloping the whole of Eastford, and that's when I knew we were in a whole heap of trouble..
I rushed to grab a few essentials and put that, together with my two boys and two dogs into my Jeep..I opened the gate, ran to the Jeep only to discover that my keys were nowhere to be found..
I begged the Lord to please please just keep me calm and collected.. I rushed back into the house and by His Love and Grace, He provided... I found the keys on my kitchen counter and as I grabbed it I looked up one last time to take in my surroundings..something I've had the privilege of enjoying for a whole of ten days since we bought the place and moved in only end last month.
As I looked out onto our deck I saw the flames making it's way towards our neighbour's picket fence... We made our way out of there as fast as we possibly could...from there, all hell broke loose and chaos ensued.
Yes, we may have lost our livelihood, our memories... our sentiment, however, our lives were spared and in the end, that's all that truly matters.
Van Zyl1Van Zyl2

The Mkwailas

Raja, his wife and 9 month old baby girl lost everything in the fires. Raja and his wife both work for the Black Water Veterinary Clinic. Not only did their home burn down, but so did their employers home. This is a very sad story of 2 very proud parents who have been amazing grateful for what they have received so far.

The Pearsons

We moved to Knysna about 18 months ago to establish a better and safer space to raise and home-school our children. We have been living in a small structure with a large garden. Perfect for raising free-range children. The trees and forest that surrounded our house are a part of the beauty we loved so much about our space. We did not realise they would inevitably be the detriment of our home. When the fires came through Welbedacht on Wednesday the 7th of June, we did not think we would have no home to return to. We have managed to find temporary accommodation thanks to the kindness of strangers, but have no idea how to rebuild a home for our children. Leaving what has become our home-town in more ways than one is not an option financially or otherwise, so we need to look at rebuilding somehow. Being unable to provide our children with a home, safe space or a bed to sleep in is devastating as a parent. Any and all assistance is welcomed at this point as we try to figure out the best way forward for those who are depending completely on us. I know we are not the only family with this heartache. The municipality has such a burden of expenses from the fire I am not sure how they will recover let alone help anyone. It is therefore up to each family to pick themselves up and carry-on. Many of us cannot do this alone. If you want to help the victims pick up the pieces, please support the amazing people who are dedicating themselves to that cause directly. We can all use a little assistance. If each person reading this assisted with R10 it would really make a difference to us all. Thank you for helping all of us rise out of the ashes, stronger and united.

The Halls

Clint and Margaret-min
My name is Margaret Hall. I arrived in this beautiful town 11 years ago with my lifelong partner to run the Drifters Lodge in Fisanthoek.
Six years ago he passed away suddenly and I was left alone to wonder where to now. Thankfully my boss purchased Greenfire Lodge and have run that until the devastating fire that has affected me and the entire town.
On the day of the fire I saw smoke increasing by the hour but convinced myself it would never reach me on the N2, that would just not be possible. As the hours passed and I watched as Featherbed’s bush caught alight, my only concern was my son, his family and Di Pepler my friend living on Brenton on Sea.
Around 16h00 I noticed the sky was a reddish orange and the smoke was too close for comfort but still convinced myself I was safe. A friend of Clint Churchill my partner now arrived at the front door and said you have to leave now, the fire is burning in the bush behind the lodge and the roof at the back was on fire.
Well now the run around started; what do you grab when you have 30 minutes to escape.
Torch, medical kit, 2 blankets, jacket, jersey and some important papers and the work and personal external hard drives.
Dog was first in the 1978 Autovilla (which had been repaired and ready the day before)and rest was just thrown in, ran around calling Angel our wild cat that we had been looking after for two years, but as we know cats he did not respond and had to leave without him, heartbreaking but hoping he will be ok. To Petrus you saved Caesar the dog and I will forever be in your debt.
Spent a long chilly night in Thesen Island car park with hundreds of other residents and watched as the town burnt. I cannot explain the feeling; no words can describe how you feel watching Greenfire Lodge and my home burning until there was nothing left but ashes.
On Thursday morning I plucked up the courage and went to see what was left and was shocked to find the main lodge still burning and my flat completely gone with everything you have worked for, for the past 30 years all gone in a flash.
The silence was deafening and the sadness indescribable. The first thing was to call for Angel, put food out for him still hoping he had got away.
A few days later Monique Rosen sent me a Facebook pic on What’s app and there was my Angel, all bandaged up and at Knysna Vet. He was rescued by Tilly and they were all amazing at the vet.
I felt relief that the whole family was safe, not all together but alive and safe.
There is so much more I would like to say but cannot get it out. My thoughts are so jumbled and every time I write something down it just does not come out rights.
I can never THANK everyone enough who has helped me try and be comfortable, clothed and feed during this difficult time.
Blessing and Light to you all.
me saw the fire and did not even think of taking the groceries.
Greenfire Knysna Lodge after fire-min

The Bosmans

My husband Heinie and I lived in a rented cottage on Heartland Farm in Elandskraal.
Early on the Wednesday morning I was alone at home with our dog when I noticed the fire’s glow in the distance. I had just enough time to alert two other residents on the smallholding, get gas bottles away from the house and grab a couple of random things inside. Heinie’s beloved guitar is the only item he asked me to take for him.
We lost everything else that day, our home reduced to a pile of twisted iron sheets. We didn't have insurance and financially things will be very tough, but we are immensely grateful to be unharmed and have the love and support of our amazing community while we rebuild our lives.
The Garden Route is truly our only home and there is no place like it.

The Nevills

Ashley Nevill
We have good days & we have bad days, 7 June 2017 was the worst day of my life.
My family along with hundreds within the Knysna area literally had minutes to evacuate our homes before being engulfed in flames. My daughter and I were home from lunchtime and we chilled and spent the afternoon painting a picture for dad for father's day and watched home movies. The smoke filling the air was concerning me and around 1pm my hubby called and said he was on his way home, he heard there are large fires in Knysna (my hubby works in Sedgefield) He made it as far as Buffalo Bay and they turned him back, he sent us photos of the fire from his car. He tried again around 3:30pm to come home and again was refused passage. Helpless he returned to work where he remained all night.
I called my father to come home as I was feeling a little uneasy not sure of what to do and he drove to the bottom of our cul-de-sac and spoke with a fellow neighbour who said the fire was still other side of welbedacht, no need to worry. He suggested we maybe think about packing. No sooner he said that that I received a call from friends down the road saying "get out the fire is right here"
It was then a mad rush of grabbing things and packing.
The hooting & sound of my dad's voice screaming for me to hurry up from outside while I tried to grab animals, documents & clothes still haunt me. The tight feeling in my chest, the smell of the smoke still vivid in my mind.
We left hoping above hope that the fire would somehow miss our house, even though we knew it was surrounded by the forest that Knysna Loeries called home. All night I tried to remain positive.
In the early morning, my hubby was able to get through and he went to see the house.
His first words to me was "nothing," I jumped for joy as I thought there was no damage, he said "No... There is nothing left..." My heart sank, there are no words to describe the feeling.
My father, hubby, daughter & pets are safe but we lost everything in our house. Every piece of furniture that has a story, gone. Every tangible memory, gone. Things we will never be able to replace again, gone. We have no insurance, & now must rebuild our lives 1 item at a time, a home it took us 14 years to create.
This is also why we have registered with the voucher programme as it is awesome to be donated items to rebuild but it will also enable us to have a sense of being able to pick out the items we like, in the style that suits us and that means so much to us. Thank you everyone for every moment you have helped, every small or large donation, every thought or prayer, for everything you have done to get us on our way to getting back on our feet again. It will be a long road, but it can be done together.
Ashley Nevill2