Farewell to Michael a volunteer who really changed his life

By Sallie Grayson. Filed in volunteer stories  |  
TOP del.icio.us digg Bookmark and Share

It is with a mixture of sadness and joyous reflection that we announce the death of

Bheki and Michael marry

Michael O’Flaherty.

Michael volunteered with us in 2008 – he was a journalist and he volunteered to work in a township school in Port Elizabeth and he went to work at Emafini School .

During his time in PE he met and fell in love with Bheki.

At the time we received many emails  – the majority wishing Michael all the very best but some questioning the ethics of a volunteer starting a relationship with a member of the community they travelled to serve.

Our reply was that both were adults – Bheki was and still is an independent professional woman – living in a challenging environment yes – but every bit the independeent woman.

Michael and Bheki thumbed thier noses to all – against the stero type Michael went to live with Bheki in the township and here is an excerpt from one of the last pieces he wrote.

“Everything is fine for me here, I’m really enjoying this new life. It is a wonderful new life, hope arising amid the miasma of poverty.”

Michael had been ill for some time and those of us that know how important his new life in South Africa was to him are pleased that he was able to get “home” in time to end his days with Bheki whom he loved very much.

Our thoughts are with Bheki at this time.

read Michaels last article for The Daily Mail here

2 Comments

  1. Comment by roseheggie:

    15th Feb 2012 I was one of the volunteers to go to Port Elizabeth with Michael and have many happy memories of our time there with him. He was a real character, had lived a very full and exciting life and was passionate about South Africa and Bheki. I shall be thinking of him and Bheki especially tomorrow! love Rose

  2. Comment by Sallie:

    this from Paul our local partner who first introduced Mike to the township that was to become his home….

    “Today I went to Mikes funeral. The church was packed with people from the townships. They praised him for his compassion and love for the people. He came for a month as a volunteer on our school support programme. And there he met Bheki. And fell in love. He went home, came back and married her. He lived here for four years.He volunteerd all that time at a poor school. Goodbye Mike, our son of the soil!”

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.