John and Bethany Arndt

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Christmas Fire in Masi.

A devistating fire swept through the Masi wetlands early on Sunday morning. I turned my personal phone off that morning because early calls often wake me up. I woke up to several missed  calls from various friend’s in Masi and colleagues. Hundreds of  men, women and children ran for their lives that morning and miraculously all went unharmed. The official report is that 170 homes have burned. This once labrynth of creative and feeble bunaglows is now a massive heap of debris and ash. Fires are common in South African townshps with rows of shacks stacked side by side. Sharing jerry rigged electricity lines, the thin plyboard, asbestos, and zinc materials combined with alcohol induced foolshness, indoor propane stoves, and other various heat sources, turns a harsh but liveable community into a fast and destructive field of flames.
This area of Masi is already where the poorest of the poor live, building shacks on swamp land because the real community is overcrowded. The foreigners and newcomers are forced to build in this area.  Their homes can hardly stand the wind and rain and often don’t. Three of our Vulnerable Children families lost their homes in this fire and everything in them except the clothes they had on. Thank God they were not burned or injured.

The All Nations Masi team arrived at the scene as soon as word spread. By the time of arrival the fire department had quarantined the area off and the fire was smoldering. It was so shocking to see a whole area in the wetlands just gone. Each of these families lost everything completely in the fire. Their sponsors had just purchased  school uniforms for January, these were also lost. But the Vulnerable Children program went and bought our families food and one change of clothing and one pair of shoes to wear for now. We made sure they were able to stay with someone.

The building began yesterday, many friend’s gathered together. The irony is great because its really a terrible spot to rebuild but the only option. We want our VC sponsrs and interested individuals to be aware of this crisis. Please consider if your church or friends might be able to send $ to help these families. Many of us have already sorted through our own home goods to share what we can. Here are some of the most immediate needs:  The building of the shack 1,500 dollars, The purchase of the school  uniforms lost are  70 dollars including the shoes.  Beds, blankets, pots and pans, clothes, refrigerator, and stoves are other items that we hope to help with.

Please be praying for these families right now. A new fire even started yesterday, as the wind is unusually high. 8 shacks that had been rebuilt caught fire a 2nd time! Can you believe it?  It breaks our hearts that many who have so little in the first place are caught loosing everything they have worked for.

On a side note there are Tzotsis (gansters) who are taking advantage of the chaos to target the vulnerable and the malungus who have come to help. On Sunday my friends and coworkers Kalyn & Julianna were held up with a butcher knife, they lost only their phones but were very frightened as you can imagine. Those we are helping are also at risk as poverty breeds theft especially among the “have nots”.
Thank you for your concern & prayers for these families.
If you would like to make a donation to help them, please DONATE HERE.

Photos by Liam Byrnes

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