The impact of an unemployed father

Henry

From an early age I had an example of how hard an Afrikaner man can work in my father. For me, my father was a good example of someone who not only works long hours, including night shifts, but who physically works with his hands.

The famous artist and good friend of Solidarity Helping Hand, Appel, sings:

He says a man who works with his hands
Will never pull too hard
A God-fearing man of mercy does not know his end
A hard working man, a hard working man
Who knows his Lord, stands by his principles
It’s a real man, a hard-working man

Between these lyrics hides my father’s humanity; i see him when i listen to this. Just like many other Afrikaner daughters look up to their fathers and wish that one day they too could marry a man like their father, this was my wish too. And so it also happened that I married a man who works really hard to provide for me and his daughter.

Of course, this is not the case in all marriages. Yes, there are young women who marry men who are really hardworking men, but who just one day find themselves without a job and then a family collapses.

Sometimes hard work is not enough

I believe and am firmly convinced that the Afrikaner man is hardworking by nature. Our men like dirt between their fingers and sweat on their beards. We have hard men who can work hard. Whether it is on the farm or whether it is in front of a computer in the city, our men are put together like this, with courage and courage in their pipes, with true ethical work behavior and with a future dream for their descendants.

Unfortunately, the will to work is not always enough. Life happens and men are out of work.

Flip Buys, chairman of the Solidarity Movement, always says that in many cases there are only three months between the middle-class man who loses his job and the traffic light. We see this at Solidarity Helping Hand. We see how pride falls and how hard men stand unemployed at traffic lights and beg to be able to work.

It reminds me of the man in the Free State who stood next to my bakkie window with his master’s degree certificate in his hand, the degree that was supposed to create a good future for him, but which is simply not enough.

Who lies awake

Journalist Janice du Plessis writes RNews South Africans lie awake at night about unemployment. According to her, Ipsos, one of the largest market research companies worldwide, refers to unemployment as the main reason why people have sleepless nights.

It goes without saying that, for example, my husband will also lie awake. Lying awake goes hand in hand with depression and sometimes also suicide, and this leads to a broken family whose world is completely ripped out from under them.

One can imagine for oneself what an enormous effect unemployment among Afrikaner men can have on the holistic well-being of families. We firmly believe that a healthy family creates a healthy community, which is why at Solidarity Helping Hand we refer to employment rather than welfare.

But if we look closely at the effect of an unemployed Afrikaner man on a family’s well-being, we see a dark and sad story. This naturally creates financial pressure. If the main breadwinner is without a source of income, the family often has to deal with a sharp decrease in income. This can lead to a lack of basic necessities such as food, housing, medical care and education for the children.

Then come emotional challenges.

Financial pressure can lead to stress, anxiety and even depression due to the uncertainty about the future and the pressure to survive financially. A changed dynamic means that other family members have to step in to fill the gaps created by the absence of an income source. Children who grow up in an environment of financial insecurity and stress may run an increased risk of emotional and social problems in the future.

Different stories, same story

Traverse le Goff, the DA’s deputy shadow minister of employment and labour, says: “It is estimated that unemployment under the current ANC national government will rise to 33.5% in 2024, and then to 33.9% in 2025. It can only be described as an economic massacre.”

A woman in Mpumalanga, the mother of three daughters, says: “My husband is unemployed. Please we urgently need food. Can you please help?”

According to this year’s State of the Union speech, “around 9 million people are currently unemployed and receive the special social emergency aid allowance every month”.

These are three different writings, but they all shout the same thing out loud. We can talk for years about the reasons why Afrikaner men are out of work; we can point fingers at them who have a big part in it. But in the end we have to look at its social implications.

Denel employees know this stress

In July 2022, the Solidarity Research Institute (SNI) published a report on the mental and financial condition of Denel employees. Nicolien Welthagen, research psychologist at the SNI, says: “Denel as a whole went through a process of destruction. The financial impact on employees may be calculable, but the emotional and mental impact will never be calculable.”

Most respondents were male (68.5%) and over 51 years of age (68.3%).

Most respondents (67.2%) indicated that they had started to develop insomnia, while 62.% suffered from anxiety and 55.2% from depression. Shockingly, 16.8% had suicidal thoughts.

The respondents had the following to say:

  • I helped others, now I can hardly help myself.
  • I can’t concentrate or focus.
  • I have this anger inside of me and I don’t know how to get rid of it. I am emotionally broken; I am not paid a salary, but I am expected to still work every day and give my best. I feel like I’m being mistreated. Ridiculous!
  • I have no motivation or drive to do anything anymore.
  • The uncertainty makes you finish.
  • Increased stress and uncertainty affects my ability to work and enjoy outdoor activities.
  • The fact that salary is a problem affects your mental state.
  • Life comes to a standstill without proper financing.
  • Unbelievably much stress.
  • Uncertainty, stress, living from hand to mouth for the last three years. Can’t plan anything.
  • I lost my place to live, security, self-confidence and human dignity. Live with anxiety.

(The report can be requested from Solidarity.)

I read through the report again and in front of me I see how we are standing in a line handing out food parcels to these proud Afrikaner men. Men who give thanks with sincere hearts with tears rolling down their cheeks. Suddenly the hard-working man’s beard no longer catches his sweat, but his tears.

Take a look at this video that formed part of a campaign to assist these men:

We will have to take care ourselves

I believe the answer to the question “How can one help when someone loses his job?” are the words “We will ourselves”.

We will have to take care of our people ourselves. We ourselves will have to devise plans and launch emergency campaigns to assist them. You as a neighbor will have to go knock yourself and offer, and sometimes insist, to help. By supporting the private sector, you are already making a huge difference. We always say in the Solidarity Movement that we do not work from election year to election year; we work now and for another 100 years from now. But it is also important to tick the right party’s name.

As we have just read, an unemployed father has a massive impact on the well-being of a family. But there is always hope – these were the last words of my hard-working father. As an Afrikaner woman who has to support an Afrikaner man, I will stick to that. I will build in our beautiful country and I will help where I can.

Own social crisis

Solidarity Helping Hand’s questionnaires for research launched nationally were filled in by more than 15,000 respondents. This research has shown without any doubt that all Afrikaners are facing some form of social crisis. Sometimes the outcome is easier than one thinks; some men simply just need help getting their driver’s licenses. You only have to ask in the right places how one can help.

Solidarity’s new platform offers help and answers. Here you find help with protection in your workplace and for career challenges, developing your skills and empowering yourself with continued learning. Professional communities are also formed here; together we fight against corrupt state institutions and affirmative action.

Lessons from Europe

Writing this article took me back to my trip to South Tyrol. Sebastiaan Biehl refers to South Tyrol as a blessed piece of earth. It is the northern province of Italy and is nowadays a popular tourist destination. South Tyrol is obviously a blessed piece of land, but it was and still is a political bone of contention and one of the most famous examples of how minorities are accommodated after a long struggle for self-determination.

For the Afrikaner as a minority group, it is therefore fascinating to study the South Tyrolean autonomy model and experience it in practice.

At our last stop between the Alps we find neat streets, apples, pastel colored buildings and streets full of people living in harmony. Here we find the success of an autonomous model and naturally want to experience everything and take it back home.

We visited the parliament and my first question to them was what the unemployment rate looks like. Secondly, I wanted to know what is the biggest social challenge they experience here where it seems and feels like everything is just prosperous all the time.

Their answer was that the unemployment rate is 0% and that they are actually looking for people to fill positions. Their biggest social challenge is the fact that young people are leaving South Tyrol and looking for work elsewhere rather than holding positions in the public service.

Statistics do show an unemployment rate of 2.9%, which is still extremely low. In Italy the unemployment rate is 10% and in Europe 6.8%. There are 306 volunteer firefighters and 2,212 volunteer organizations.

For me, the way people live out their faith in Hungary was really beautiful, but here it is different. Here Jesus is in every street. The South Tyroleans hang crosses everywhere, and around every corner where I see them, I get another opportunity to stand at Jesus’ feet and thank Him that I feel so safe here.

Unlike in Zurich, I see many more children in the towns; i see a future

Three languages, but one country and one God. A nice example of a country without unemployment. A beautiful dream.

Unemployment remains a challenge; it requires a holistic approach of support to help a family overcome these challenges and create a stable, healthy environment for everyone in it. That is why we at Solidarity and Solidarity Helping Hand will focus and continue to focus on work.