Watch: Christmas miracle when Danville family gets new home


It’s nothing but a Christmas miracle.

After more than three years, Dorthea (Thea) Neethling (71) from Danville in the west of Pretoria has a roof over her head again, a comfortable bed to sleep in and hot running water.

“It’s wonderful, wonderful . . . I can’t believe that the Lord is giving me back like this,” she said over and over as tears of joy spontaneously rolled down her cheeks.

“It feels like a dream. . . I can not believe it . . . the Lord always takes care of people.”

She took delivery of her brand new home on Thursday, four days before Christmas, after her previous place of residence was destroyed in a fire in 2021.

The little family had trouble before, but what followed after the fire were dark times.

Not only did their home burn to the ground, it also left Thea’s granddaughter scarred.

Elizabeth Trollip (14) still lives today with the scars on her face, neck and hands from that fateful night.

Lizzie, as her family affectionately calls her, went to investigate the night of the fire after a burning candle fell over in the kitchen. At the time, the family lived in the house without any electricity after the city council cut it off due to non-payment.

While Lizzie was investigating, a gas bottle exploded. Miraculously, she wasn’t quite in the kitchen yet, nor too close to the gas bottle. However, the blow still threw her backwards and tore the skin off her face, hands and legs.

As she lay on the ground, the flames spread quickly and she suffered more burns.

Her brother, Franco, rushed to her aid and lay on top of her to protect her from the flames.

Neethling House, Elizabeth Trollip, Danville, fire

Thea says by then the smoke and flames had overwhelmed the rest of the family. She remembers she passed out and only regained consciousness on the sidewalk in front of the house.

Her house was in flames and she could only lie helplessly and watch as rescue workers tried to put out the flames.

Only later would she hear that a neighbor who heard the explosion called for help. While he was waiting for the fire brigade, he broke down the burglar bars in front of one of the windows.

Franco then broke out the window he and Lizzie were saved on from the inside. The neighborhood watch and fire brigade were already on the scene and helped to bring the rest of the family to safety.

Lizzie’s condition was critical and she was rushed to Kalafong Hospital. From there she was transferred by helicopter to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. She was not released until four months after the fire.

No place to go

In the meantime, the family had to temporarily move in with relatives.

The Tshwane metro apparently promised to rebuild their house for them. Dates came from their promises, says Thea.

After about a year, they were forced to return to their burned down house, where they lived in a three-room wendy wooden house. Later another smaller wooden house followed which was converted into a bathroom. Water is supplied with a pipe from an outside tap.

The family was hit harder than ever before. They survived on food parcels and Thea’s old-age pension.

In addition, Lizzie’s father, Willem Trollip, struggled with cancerous tumors in his abdomen. “He just lay here in bed for many days,” pointed out Thea.

“Then I prayed: Lord just give me strength, just help us.”

He died in August, shortly before construction could begin, due to complications from the cancer.

“I still get sad soon, but I’ve been through everything. . . I am through it with the Lord’s grace. I can’t say thank you enough to everyone who helped us here,” says Thea while Franco gives her shoulders a hug.

Lizzie chose to stay in the background, while her grandmother continues to tell how she kept praying for a miracle for months on end.

Her prayers were answered in July this year when Wayne van Onselen from the charity organization Unchain our Children approached the media about the family’s plight.

At one stage, around 16,000 bricks were donated and dropped off at the house, but the family did not have the money to continue building themselves.

Two benefactors, who wish to remain anonymous, read the report and donated the necessary cash and equipment to build a new house for Thea.

Learners from the Pretoria Boy’s High School also, as part of their community service, lent a hand and cleaned up the yard so that it could be built.

The building work started in September this year with the aim that the family could move in by Christmas.

And now the house is brand new, with a payment meter for electricity, a master bedroom for Thea and running water in the taps.

Unchain our Children will also help the little family to earn an income by renovating and renting out the old wendy house.