Now... you have to experience pension day in SA to believe it. In our small town (and all other small and larger towns) in the Free State, the banks cannot cope with the volumes of people cashing their state pensions from the 1st of every month.
The population in the town of Marquard is about 3000; the population in neighboring Moemaneng - 3km from town - is 88,000 souls. At least 60% of those in Moemaneng draw either an old-age pension or a child benefits grant. The latter was implemented when South Africa became a democratic republic in 1994. It was initiated to assist for single mothers who had been dropped by the child's natural father; each child receives a social grant of R330/US$30 per month up till the age of 18. On the other hand, it also opened an avenue of abuse whereby the young girls now have babies from the age of 13; often two, three and four children in order to receive this grant. The result is thousands of fatherless children whose mothers are too young and inexperienced to look after them properly. Street children are the norm and not the exception in our society.
Back to our monthly visits to the ATM/cash machines. We learnt very quickly that if we tried to go and cash the money after the sun rose on the 1st you stand in a L O N G queue for ages; when you get to the machine, the money is finished. That's our little town. We have three banks with ATM's and they all run out of money within the first few daylight hours.
Grant and I set the alarm for 4 am, get up, dress in our warmest hoodies, boots, socks and knitted hats. Then we drive down town, stop at the ATM which Rina tells us charges the least for pensioners drawings and cash her and Pam's state pensions. Not a soul is around and the banks are still full of money. YaY! We've effected a no-fail system and will do this every month until we're employed in Africa again. Then Rina will wait until the 3rd or 4th of the month when the queues have lessened and take Pam to cash her pension.
Last week at 9 a.m. we collected Pam at the center; I gave her her pension money. Then we drove down to one of our local supermarkets where she does a little shopping for the month. Her eyesight is bad so Rina helps her around the shop and to the till. Grant and I, having done our bit for the day, just wait in the car. This week, I'd taken six dozen koeksisters in a basket and sold them all to the pharmacist next door and the shop assistant before she put Pam's order through the till.
Back at the center, we helped Pam to her room; she hooks in with Rina while I carry the shopping bags. She likes to unpack them herself. Meanwhile she reached into her wardrobe and brought out a rattle for Skabenga, the pup. (who is always with us)
When we got home, I gave Skabenga the rattle. He grabbed it in his jaws and dashed around for ages enjoying the noise. I had to take a video...
Happy Monday to you all!