I am South African, but as a young woman I met an accountant from England and we married. He said the weather was too cold in England and we set up a life here in South Africa and had a son. My husband always told me to remember that there was an organisation there to help us if we ever needed anything. He explained that because he had been an ICAEW member, I could go to them for support. We actually went to them for some assistance before my husband died: he was diabetic and some of the medical bills were extremely high. caba helped us with those bills in a very straightforward way. I think it gave my husband real peace of mind to know that we had an organisation like caba behind us.
I am in my 60s now, and since my husband died I have been living with my son and his family. However, the political and economic climate in South Africa is very difficult at the moment, and for reasons beyond his control, my son had to sell his farm. We moved to virgin land. Building a new farmhouse for the family and a smaller cottage for me was challenging, as was setting up the farm and working it, but we all did our best.
I was aware of how demanding the financial situation was for my son and his wife, and it was important to me to feel that I could contribute to the family too. I spoke to caba and they listened carefully. I explained the detail and hoped they would agree to assist. And indeed they did. caba awarded me a discretionary grant which enabled me to feel like an independent member of the family. It has improved my situation and improved my spirits in many ways.
But that's not the end of my experience with caba. As we came towards the end of building our farm, it became clear that there would not be enough funds to put in a pump system for the water as we'd planned. Clean water is available nearby, but we need to walk to a tap, collect it and walk back. We all take our turn, but it's hard physically, and it's time consuming. It also means that laundry is a big job and baths and so on aren't possible. I was managing fine, but I was starting to think about what it would mean long-term, as I got older.
I phoned caba to chat about it. Again, they were very warm and very professional. It didn't take long for them to gather all the details and then to make a decision. When they said they would fund the water system it put such a smile on my face. We provided quotes and they paid it straight to the contractors.
We now have running water in the farmhouse and in my cottage. As well as restoring quality of life for all of us, I would say that it has improved my mental health too. I'm not worried - it's as simple as that. I feel secure and settled. And I feel that my actions have contributed to the wellbeing of my whole family. Without their assistance, it could have become quite a desperate and sad situation, but now I feel extremely positive about the future.
It's important that people are not put off asking for assistance. I have gone to caba three times, and each time they have helped. The other thing to say is, that as a widow, caba feels like a connection with my husband. It is his career, his membership of ICAEW that has made me eligible for support. So although we lost him 15 years ago, it's as though he's still looking after me. Every time we turn the tap on and clean, fresh water comes out, we can thank him and the chartered accountant community that he was part of.