A soft landing
We were able to rent a 3 bedroom home in Kimberley and on the day of our arrival, we went and bought a new refrigerator/freezer. We lived in Hartswater for 3 years and we know how hot it can be during the summer. It was a necessity!
We moved into the home with basic appliances and furniture. We had our washing machine and new refrigerator. We had a kettle and basic cups and cutlery. In the rooms we decided to use our air matrasses and linen while we save up for beds. In the lounge we had a lounge suite belonging to Theunis' parents. The upholstery was showing the signs of heavy usage and neglect, but we were grateful.
We were thrown head-on into a new world. The predominantly Afrikaans-speaking mono-cultural community we suddenly found ourselves in were a far cry from the multi-cultural mega-city we called our home for the previous 3 years. Initially we enjoyed the conversations in our mother-tongue. Being able to express ourselves fully in our daily activities was great. We realized that there are problems in any situation, but at least we could now engage with these issues in our own language!
Getting the children settled in local schools were a priority. Thea-Marie was placed in Grade 6 in Newton Primary School. She was placed in the English class which was also a multi-cultural class. A Xhosa girl who were marginalized by the other children in the class became one of her best friends. It was a big change for her to move from the small intimate learning environment at the school in Istanbul, to a totally new curriculum and educational approach in a class with 40+ learners. Despite the challenges she performed well and even tried to take part in extra-mural activities like the internal athletics meeting for the schools' learners. She would have preferred soccer, but it was not an option. She was 11 years old and has never been on an athletics track. On the day of the competition she lined up with her friends for the 800 meters. After the first round she was still in touch with the front runners, but during the second lap, she fell way behind. She did not concentrate on the bell to indicate the last lap. She was so far behind that the teachers attending to the runners left the track whilst she was running the last bend. As parents our hearts were sinking and we felt so sorry for her. She was so brave and just kept running. As she approached the finishing line I realized that there was no one to tell her to stop and she was going to start another lap. I made my way down the pavilion and on to the track and halfway around the next bend I managed to caught up with her and escorted her off the track. She felt so ashamed and to this day it is a memory she does not cherish!
We applied to put Hardus into grade 9 in one of the local schools. In our interview with the head master at Noord-Kaap High School he suggested that Hardus should be promoted to Grade 10. He argued that grade 9 was a year where learners finalize portfolios started in grade 8. He felt Hardus will be bored and should rather consider the challenge to start with a new season in grade 10. In doing so, he would also be in the last group to complete the "old" curriculum. After careful consideration he accepted the challenge and he was enrolled in grade 10. In hindsight that was the best decision for Hardus and he excelled academically. He too tried to take part in sport activities and played a few soccer and cricket games.
Within the first three months friends from neighboring towns came to visit and soon our home was fully functional with enough appliances, cutlery and linen. We also got a new double-bed and two single beds gifted to us by close friends during that time!
It was not always easy but it was a soft landing in many respects!