On the 27th of November my husband, kids and I boarded a plane at midnight with ten suitcases and heavy, yet optimistic hearts. We left our family, friends and familiarity behind and started the 25-hour journey to our new home. Very few people knew, we did not get around to say goodbye to everyone as we only had three weeks to finalise everything.
Despite the utterly insane timeline, it wasn’t a spontaneous decision at all.
There are so many reasons why.
Moving to Ireland has been a dream of ours since we started dating 10-years ago. It is a beautiful country with a rich history and epic culture. The people are wonderful, the accent is gorgeous, it is safe, the quality of life is amongst the highest in the world, the economy is good, the benefits are great and the scenery is insane. We always had this dream of living in a little stone cottage in the countryside, smoke billowing out the chimney and fluffy sheep grazing in our back yard.
We would apply for jobs, give ourselves a timeline… only to pull back. We would miss South Africa too much, it would be too hard to leave our families, we wanted our kids to grow up in a diverse country, etc. There was always an excuse, always a reason to stay. A couple of years ago, we once again found ourselves seriously considering immigrating – this time because we feared for our children’s’ future in South Africa. It was with the intense Xenophobic attacks that we were once again reminded of the deep hatred that poisons the country’s soil. It sometimes feels like everyone hates everyone… there is just too much bad blood. But, like many South Africans we stayed – because things had to get better.
A few years later a mother was hijacked. She tried to get her baby out of the backseat, but the hijackers sped off – her son’s foot caught in the seatbelt… dragging him behind the car. That story brings me to tears every time I think about it, it still gives me nightmares. It caused a sense of panic and anxiety in me that never left. It was my worst fear, and I tried to avoid driving with the kids in my car unnecessarily. Every year got worse, until I became so desensitised that it scared me. I saw so many hijackings and smash and grabs just travelling to work and back, every noise woke me up in panic at night, we avoided malls, we paid an insane amount to have our kids in private schools with top security systems and we avoided other people as much as possible. We gave up our idyllic life on the farm after our neighbour was shot dead and we almost became a farm murder statistic ourselves. We moved to an area with a lower crime rate than most, and we became prisoners in our home because I was so paranoid about keeping my kids safe. It made everyone miserable.
Besides the crime, financially life was draining. No matter how much money we made – it was never enough. Cole and I both had high paying jobs, we did not lead extravagant lifestyles and we worked incredibly hard – but the cost of private school, medical aid, food, rent, electricity etc. just seemed to cripple us every month. It depressed me so much to think that there were so many people worse off than us, who went to bed starving every night. And there was no one to help them. It felt too heavy.
I am not saying South Africa is a dump filled with crime and poverty. The situation in South Africa is the way it is for so many deep and complex reasons. Apartheid went on too long, it caused so much pain and hurt that people of colour are still feeling it in their blood generations later. Some white people feel guilty and don’t know how to fix it, while others spew their racism and reopen the wounds over and over again. The government uses racism is a weapon to be elected, while simultaneously bankrupting the country through corruption and stealing from the most vulnerable. People turn to crime out of sheer desperation, and keep going fuelled by hate. It is a vicious cycle, and like many South Africans – I did not feel welcome in my country. I tried to educate myself, to own my white privilege and to try be part of the solution – but it could never be enough.
A big turning point for me was when a girl went to her local post office, only to be raped and murdered by a post office worker. A post office I frequently went to while I lived in the area. So many women and children are raped and murdered on a daily basis, and it terrified me. There is something seriously wrong with the majority of South African men – and I have no idea what it is. The #AmINext movement lit a fire in my soul, but was also the start of an irreversible turning point.
Cole and I broke our no-mall rule and headed to our local mall when Nova was only a few months old, that day we would become the victims of a attempted kidnapping. It ruined me. I developed Agoraphobia, severe depression and refused to leave my house. I would not even go into our garden. I did not sleep, the kids only went to school and back (even though I really just wanted to keep them at home), we did not go anywhere for months and months. I became so paranoid and consumed by fear. We knew we had to go. As if it were a sign, Cole got an e-mail from a company he applied to YEARS ago to go for an interview. He was offered the job and we had three weeks to pack up our entire lives and leave.
Everything just seemed to fall into place. Ireland is in the midst of a housing crises, yet we were able to secure our dream home before moving over. Financially we could do it, we were emotionally ready and looming Brexit gave us the extra kick we needed.
We have been here for two months, and it was the best choice we have ever made. It has not been easy – but I will touch on that in a different post. I love South Africa, I miss it. I miss the warm sun, the culture and the beauty. I miss knowing where what is, I miss my family and I miss my favourite shops – but I will never go back. I have realised that the issues back home are not my responsibility. My kids however, are.
I brought them into this world, it is my responsibility to keep them safe. To give them a life worth living. That is my ONLY responsibility. People might say we ran away… maybe we did. As I watch my kids walk down the road on their own, hand in hand with their friends on their way to school – I just don’t care. We have big open windows without burglar bars, we sleep soundly, we go on long walks and we are not afraid of the dark.
I don’t care what people think. This is my life, and I am proud of the fact that we could do this for our children. I am grateful for the opportunity and I will be grateful every single day of my life.
I love my home country, but I’m not coming back.
So.. why did we leave? Why not.
We wanted to.
For work opportunity.
To follow our dreams.
For a better future.
I am not sure what this means for my blog, I suppose I will focus more on my journey. I hope you stick around for it!
Do you have any questions for me?
“The only thing more unthinkable than leaving was staying; the only thing more impossible than staying was leaving. I didn’t want to destroy anything or anybody. I just wanted to slip quietly out the back door, without causing any fuss or consequences, and then not stop running until I reached Greenland.”