*This piece is written by Lutho Dyalvane (pictured above), a member of Connect Sports Academy since 2014. We are staying in daily contact with our athletes to support them and their families during the coronavirus lockdown. If you would like to donate to help our work with young people, please find our details here or get in touch by email here.
I’m Lutho Dyalvane, I live with a younger sis, older brother and my mom. I’m 17-years-old, I’m a rugby player at Connect Sports Academy and I’m doing Matric at the Western Cape Sport School.
Sounds pretty normal, right?
Yeah I guess it is.
It’s very surprising how your life can change with just a single call, from your mom telling you that she’s in hospital.
Not much of a problem you may think coz, well, yeah we’ll just wait for her to get better, pray and just be optimistic.
But it’s not much of a call for patience and hope when the same mom is the the only provider for her three kids and is now unable to work anymore.
She’s the only provider for a few unemployed individuals that see her as their only hope, but now is in hospital and can’t provide any meals anymore.
Now that call turns to something else
I had to immediately come back from boarding school because my 11-year-old sister was left alone with no one to look after her. I got there, told her the news, made her some food and then put her to sleep.
Now I instantly had to think about a plan on how I could help my family and just try to help my outside family that my mom provided for.
In my mind I planned on getting a holiday job and just try to ease the panic and at least bring back the hope until my mom came back.
I searched everywhere and finally got a job at local fruit and veg stand that agreed to pay me R100 a day. I’d get off work and just start distributing food to the dependents.
I continued with this for a while, putting the matter of Covid-19 aside because I felt like it was the least of my problems at the time, but that all changed when the president announced the national lockdown.
Now that killed everything, I can still remember the day he announced it – my heart just sank and my mind went blank.
This meant I couldn’t work, there were no more provisions I could make, I couldn’t do anything no matter how much I wanted.
I was forced to sit down and just wait.
My older brother decided that we should move to my aunt who lives in an informal settlement not so far from our own.
At least there we could survive better, he thought. But the house is small, meaning me and my brother had to switch places from helping with taking care of my sister and disabled aunt and sleeping alone in our house a far distance from my aunt’s place.
There wasn’t enough space for all of us in my aunt’s shack
We went on for some time with the small food we had. No one wanted to imagine what would happen when it ran out, I guess everyone just trusted God and went on with life since there was literally nothing we could do.
On the side we were so angry with my mom because apparently whatever put her in hospital gave her a lot of clear signs but she never went for help.
But, honestly, deep down I understand, I mean she had stomachs to feed.
When there are groups of people depending on you for their daily bread, going to hospital and lying in bed is never an option.
Even when she was in hospital we were constantly getting calls that she was sleeping enough and was always stressed but never voiced what was happening, so they just thought she was sick and gave her more medicine, which resulted her being given 40+ medications.
They couldn’t understand where the stress was coming from and it honestly got to her – I knew why she was stressed, I knew exactly why and it hurt so much knowing that you can’t stop her stress because there was no clear news I could give her to make her relax, we were suffering.
We lived on hopelessly until one day my coach at Connect Sports Academy offered to give us shopping vouchers.
Now that text changed everything.
It added a bit of hope, you know, well because now at least we knew what we were gonna eat during this hard time.
And I finally had something positive to tell my mom!!!
I’m truly thankful for people like that in my life.
I just opened up about what was happening in my family with my coaches from Connect and honestly they’ve been the only people I could rely on and confide in, from where I come from you don’t really get much of those types of people, since everyone is either in a struggle to survive and can’t hear you out or would just gossip about your problems instead.
So having a family like Connect is really awesome and I’ll forever thank them.
I can still remember the day I told my hopeless and stressed family that we’d be getting vouchers from Connect, we’d finally get a break to start and actually focus on this lockdown, it was a really awesome moment.
I mean even though my mom was in ICU and battling whatever sickness she had, she could at least rest now because we at least had someone who had our backs.
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