A Glorious Weekend in Bloemfontein
It was an unbelievably emotional moment when Yolande Korkie came face to face with the negotiator who secured her freedom from Al Qaeda in Yemen on 10 January 2014 and bid farewell to him on 11 January 2014. This was the first meeting since that fateful event when Anas al Hamati, Gift of the Givers Yemen Country Manager, met Yolande in Bloemfontein on Friday, 21 August 2015. It was a time to reflect how a mother whose life had been spared had the opportunity to reunite with her two children. It was an opportunity for Anas and his family to connect with Yolande and her family and spend a precious weekend in a private retreat in Bloemfontein. It was time to finally put the pieces together as to what happened on that fateful day of 6 December 2014, when tribal leaders were on their way to fetch Pierre Korkie, whose release was secured, only to lose his life in a failed American military raid on his captors. These and many precious moments were needed for closure for the family and to help Yolande with her book to be published early next year.
But it was more than that for Gift of the Givers. It was time to be colorful, to bring joy to the poor in districts around Bloemfontein and to do it with an all encompassing team. The first stop was the University of the Free State to contribute supplies for the students feeding programme. This is a stark reality that students are collapsing of hunger in various academic institutions in South Africa. Grace Jansen, wife of Prof Jonathan Jansen, was on hand to receive the items. Then came the big event in Heidedal where essential supplies were distributed to residents of Heidedal, Bergmann Square and Batho location. The distribution was set up by Justin Colbert and Markus Butler, key members of the Gift of the Givers Search and Rescue Team. Grace Jansen, Anas al Hamati and Yolande Korkie were all active participants and so were members of Ultimate Dubs and Alpina Boys (these are car clubs). It was an afternoon of satisfaction and contentment to witness diverse groups of people bringing happiness to people in rural districts in our country. The entire project was managed by Emily Thomas, who sets up several key Gift of the Givers projects in South Africa.