Barefoot for 14 kilometres. How far would you go to save a life?
A sharp stone dug into nine-year-old Gerry Cedras’ bare foot. Leaning on his big brother, Peter, he brushed it off and continued walking. The boys had been travelling for 10 kilometres already, but wouldn’t stop. They had a mission – to get their dog, Lady, to the vet. Though their strength waned against the rough terrain and cold Cape winds, the brothers were determined to save her life. Lady wasn’t just their best friend, she was a family member. They couldn’t afford to lose her.
When Lady stopped eating, the pair knew it wasn’t a good sign. “The neighbour told me that the dog isn’t feeling very well,” Peter says. He had been saving up to buy his little brother shoes after a recent fire destroyed all of their belongings. But instead, they chose to put their coins towards Lady’s vet fees – all R7 of it. Since no animal care was available in their home town of Philippi in the Western Cape, they used the only transport they had – their feet – to cover the 14-kilometre distance to the Animal Welfare Society. When they finally arrived, vets discovered that Lady was suffering from severe tick-bite fever. “They told me that I am very lucky to have saved the dog,” Peter says. Had the boys not acted in time, she would have died.
What shocked the vets most was not the dog’s condition, but rather the boys’ tenacity. That day, the brothers were driven home with the shiny new title of animal ambassadors. “When I’m big, I’m going to work at the Animal Welfare,” Gerry says. How two young children managed such lengths is a marvel. No matter how little we may have, South Africans are all capable of going the distance for the creatures we love.