We all in South Africa had been dealing with controlled load shedding the last couple of months, everyone in their particular way. This crisis management of the national power supply has a ripple effect that reaches every domain of our society in an adverse way.
Rob and I are self-employed and flexible in our work program and had not been too seriously inconvenience by the irregular supply of electricity. As we are urban farmers, we do not store much of our food cold, but eat directly from the garden. We are also equipped with gas for cooking in these “off” periods. We work from home, giving us time and space to prepare for the periods with no power available.
However, besides the irregular supply of power, we have been experiencing severe heat in our region and that is where the harsh reality of load shedding hits us.
Rob daily faces the challenges of living with Multiple Scleroses, which includes sensitivity to temperature fluctuations; any temperature under 24˚ or higher than 27˚ has dire consequences to him. Our current home does not have air conditioning, compelling us to make use of a floor fan with a mister to keep his work area bearable for him. Despite the fan, he still struggles with severe fatigue and “brain fog” influencing his cognitive functioning on hotter days, which can even result in temporary loss of balance and mobility. At times when the core temperature of his body rises beyond a certain point, he collapses into a deep, almost comatosed sleep.
In these circumstances load shedding becomes a threat to his health. With temperature soaring in those seemingly short period (usually 2 hours), the effect thereof will continue long after the power is back on. The only solution that we have at this time is to seek out other spaces that are air conditioned like certain supermarkets, movie theatres and believe if you want to or not, only one coffee bar in our area, to hang out there until it is “safe” to go home. These outings are starting to get costly, placing strain on our financial resources. The trip itself places stress on Rob’s then already struggling body.
With seemingly no light at the end of the tunnel, we are, together with the rest of the people of South Africa, looking for alternatives to the current situation. We are doing what we can to preserve energy and water, standing in empathy with those that have it even more difficult.
May sustainable energy, economy and living come to our country soon.
©Micelle Coetsee 2015