In this time of terrible tragedy that has befallen the van Breda family and which has affected the entire community and indeed shocked the country, there is comfort to be taken from the spirit of care and concern that has emanated from the Somerset College community.
The Public Liaison person with whom we have been communicating has been extremely professional and has kept us informed with facts. It is therefore with confidence that I can tell you that Marli van Breda survived a four-hour operation on Tuesday evening and that she is in a critical but stable condition at the time of writing this letter. Understandably, she is heavily sedated.
A request was made by the Police to avoid posting comments on Facebook and on social media and we are honouring this request as far as we can. Sadly, as is common with terrible events such as this, rumours will abound.
Because Marli is in Grade 11, she and her family were well known to the Grade 11s and it is particularly difficult for them to process these events. I commend them on putting Marli at the forefront of their thoughts and feelings. All the students are aware that they can approach any staff member or the Student Development Unit for support should they need it. Any parents who are particularly concerned should not hesitate to call the College for support.
As parents, shocked as you may be, your task is to contain and support your child as they process these events. Although the trauma is vicarious, some children will feel heightened anxiety as the predictability of daily life has been challenged. Traumatic experiences are always attended by loss – be it tangible, or in this instance, the overwhelming sense of loss may be felt emotionally by those close to Marli and her family. The predictability of the world will seem compromised. As adults our task is to try to create a secure, predictable environment at this time so that a sense of safety can be restored. It is important for us to encourage mature hope and a belief in the goodness of living and in the sacredness of life. To this end it is helpful to encourage teenagers to think symbolically and metaphorically rather than in concrete terms. Acknowledge the attendant complexities that arise from trying to make sense of this tragedy. As parents, maintaining deep, intimate relationships with your children by providing a safe, approachable, loving space and relationship will allow for a positive sense of the world to be re-established.
Klein, a renowned researcher wrote, “Hope and trust in the existence of goodness … helps people through great adversity.” I believe profoundly that goodness will triumph over evil.
Executive Head: Somerset College
Important dates for your diary:
31 January – Invitation to Western Cape Rowing Championships @ Eikenhof Dam, Grabouw
8 February @ 08h00 – Somerset College / Spur Family Fun Day (Registration closes on Tuesday 3 February)