27 July 2017
– by Tom Head

When Knysna was devastated by June’s raging inferno, it took away hopes and dreams as well as the irreplaceable value of human life.

Quentin Haman’s 2017 had already been one of life-changing misfortune, having suffered from two heart attacks before June.

The fires tore through his hometown on his 45th birthday, claiming his home and his business premises in its trail of destruction. Haman lost everything and only has the ash-covered clothes he was wearing to his name.

Alone, crestfallen and absolutely dumbfounded as to what was happening, he was approached by a volunteer from the relief centre, who wrapped a black jacket over his shoulders and arms. 

The gesture was incredibly kind, but it was something purposefully placed inside the jacket that moved Haman greatly… and changed his perspective on the situation in an instant.

He’d found a handwritten note placed in one of its pockets. It contained messages of hope that instantly resonated with Mr Haman:

“To the new owner of this black leather jacket . . . We are so sorry for what you and your family are going through at this devastating time of the Knysna fires.

“My husband wore this jacket on our wedding day. I surely hope that you can find warmth when wearing it and putting your life back together.”

Quentin had an epiphany as soon as he received the sentimental note – He realised that this was a time to fight back against adversity and that he could weather this storm:

“A complete stranger on the opposite end of the country gave me an amazing gift of hope with a few kind words on a piece of paper and a leather jacket to wear.

“I may have lost everything to the fire but not all was lost. As I told my mother the other day, ‘you have got to let it go and ask, who are we going to become in six months?’ This is a time to grow, to be better.”

This is the note Inge Coetsee left in the jacket pocket, hoping to lift the spirits of anyone who found it


It is a truly wonderful philosophy Haman’s using to cope with his loss, and it was all inspired by 36-year-old Inge Coetsee, of Pretoria. 

The note-writer knew she had to give the people of Knysna something to hold on to, so she slipped her words of wisdom into the jacket she was donating.

Both Haman and Coetsee plan to meet in the near future. Here’s hoping the sage advice helps both of them, and maybe even the rest of us.

Article source: www.thesouthafrican.com

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