Cape Town - The elderly woman who saved 14 children from a fire could soon be without a home.
Elizabeth Barrett, 68, and the children she cares for, have been living in a vacant building since Wednesday after a fire destroyed their home and belongings.
Barrett rushed into her burning home in Harrington Street, Cape Town to save the children.
At the time, the owner of the building, which is also in Harrington Street, gave Barrett until Saturday to find another place to stay.
Barrett said she was told he planned to turn the building into a recycling depot.
“I have no place to go… I feel (sad) that I must sleep in the street with the children. These are nice children. They are innocent children. That is my only concern,” she said.
Barrett had lived in the now-gutted Victorian-era semi-detached house in Harrington Street for more than 30 years where the family used the house for their photo-developing business.
She had four daughters but when her husband died of cancer 10 years ago, she opened her home to homeless people and others in need.
When the fire gutted the house on Wednesday, she had been sharing her home with her daughter Beatrice, 14 children - six of them her grandchildren - five street children, and three orphans sent to her from an orphanage to spend the holidays.
She had also taken in six needy adults. Barrett said she went to the city council on Friday to see if they could provide a shelter for her, but was told Mayor Patricia de Lille was on leave and there was nothing officials could do.
Although the threat of being homeless lingered, Barrett was smiling and laughing with her grandchildren as she prepared lunch for the family on Sunday.
Three of the young children sat on a table while the older children had gone to a public swimming pool.
Clothes, mattresses and toys on the floor gave testimony to the strangers and big corporations who had flocked there with donations.
The Department of Home Affairs had also since visited the family to replace their lost identity documents.
“I’m really grateful to everybody that has come to us. I want to thank them all. The man who gave us a roof over our head, it would have been difficult without the help.”
Barrett receives government social grants for one of her grandchildren and an old-age pension. The family’s other source of income is Beatrice’s salary.
The owner of the building, whose name is known to the Cape Times, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.