UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Abraham de Klerk is unsure he will get to see his sister again, as she suffers from MND close to 11,500km away.
UNCERTAIN FUTURE: Abraham de Klerk is unsure he will get to see his sister again, as she suffers from MND close to 11,500km away.

Pandemic could rob winemaker of final moments with sister

WHEN Symphony Hill winemaker Abraham de Klerk embarked on the journey of a lifetime from South Africa to Australia, he could never have known the heart-rending ordeal that was ahead.

Mr de Klerk arrived in the country in May last year, after securing a position as lead winemaker at the Ballandean vineyard.

Little did he know the outbreak of COVID-19 would likely rob him of the chance to say goodbye to his older sister, Marlize Christensen, who is suffering from a degenerative disease.

"Motor neurone disease is pretty much a death sentence, she can basically just sit there, she can't talk to anyone," Mr de Klerk said.

"Being here provides me with a better opportunity to support her.

"It's a tough call because in the same sense, there's a real opportunity I'll never see her again."

Stuck on the Granite Belt, Mr de Klerk said the possibility of returning to his home country was virtually non-existent as the pandemic ravaged the nation.

Marlize Christensen before her MND diagnosis in November 2018.
Marlize Christensen before her MND diagnosis in November 2018.

In a country riddled with corruption, he said access to the 24/7 care his sister need was impossible to find.

"The country is making it quite difficult and the town my sister lives in doesn't have the capabilities to look after her," he said.

"We've been struggling as a family to get a carer to look after her.

"It's also put a lot of strain in her husband, between looking after his wife - it's everything from showering to going to the bathroom - and working."

Taking to GoFund Me to help raise the money needed for his sister's care, Mr de Klerk said he was reliant on stable work at the vineyard to help his family 11,485km away.

"Luckily I'm here and can send money home," he said.

"Her medical fund stopped paying because the critical disease fund is exhausted.

"It's a horrible way to go; it's a really rough way to go."

To donate to the GoFund Me, click here.

 

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