Life without a fridge, stove and washing machine — in South Africa

Cheri was mostly concerned about people believing her. And despite her circumstances, she was still planning her monthly ‘scared straight’ program for a group of 12–18 year old boys from her community. To date, she’s taken 200 boys to a local prison to help them see how their life might end up if they make bad choices. Cheri knows firsthand — her oldest son was released from prison last year. Beyond the normal disappointment of having a kid in prison, she feared every day for his safety. She literally lived in fear and prayed every day. So part of her motivation is to help another mother avoid that pain and stress.

Three weeks ago, Cheri’s refrigerator broke. She found a guy who said he could repair it. He picked up the fridge, took it away, brought it back, put it back in place, and left. She later realized the entire motor was missing. Then, last week, the ‘stove’ — really a hot plate, was down to just one burner. Then the washing machine went and both TVs. She told me she felt cursed and punished.

Cheri lives in a two bedroom apartment with 8 relatives, including 2 bright grandkids. Her daughter and one son work, but she feels the weight to provide. She is a housekeeper for my friend, and I’ve gotten to know her during my first visit to South Africa last December and my current visit. Cheri also has a side business making dosas and curries. She takes orders on Thursdays and cooks and delivers on Fridays.

The US dollar goes very far in South Africa, with the exchange rate currently at 1 USD to 15.53 Rand. My friend told me a used refrigerator would cost $125 USD, and I immediately said I would buy it. One thing lead to another, and I found myself starting a Go To Fund for Cheri, thinking if I could raise a little more money, I could get her a new fridge and possibly a stove.

Even though I’m a bit short of the $800 goal, I bought her a new fridge and stove today. She has been storing food in a neighbor’s fridge, with mixed results. When I told her they were being delivered tomorrow, she was very overwhelmed. She told me she prayed this morning for a miracle and asked for God’s help.

When you have used appliances and everything is 2nd or 3rd or 4th hand, things are going to break without warning. And with no recourse for dealing with shady repairmen, zero savings, possible financing of a used appliance at a very high interest rate, Cheri was expecting to sort of manage without these ‘conveniences’ indefinitely.

Cheri and her family need a little help, and with a new fridge and stove, she will have two less things to worry about for many years. I couldn’t be so generous in the States, but with a favorable exchange rate, a little negotiating at the appliance store, and some help from generous friends, I’m able to do a little something for someone in need. And for Cheri, it’s life changing.

For updates on Cheri, please check out:

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.