The lockdown has affected us all in different ways, from schooling being disrupted to people losing their jobs. This South African family has struggled a little more than most.

Johann Claase experienced a parent’s worst nightmare when he lost his 9-year-old son Max, who passed away from a sudden acute illness during lockdown. As the result of the South African airspace closure, Claase is currently stranded in Mauritius where he works and is thus unable to be with his family during this extremely difficult time.

Little Max dreamed of becoming a pilot one day. Picture: supplied

A day after Max’s passing, his mother was hospitalised due to illness, leaving his older sister under the care of a neighbour.

A group of good samaritans from ‘Home Away From Home’ are trying to honour Max’s life and help the family by assisting with the repatriation of his dad along with many other South Africans also stranded in Mauritius. They have partnered with Give Today, an online crowdfunding platform based in Namibia and are also working with the Pupkewitz Foundation to create ‘The Max Claase Charter’.

“For the past three weeks our Home Away From Home team of dedicated volunteers have all worked around the clock, being the ear on the ground to all our stranded fellow South Africans, helping with many needs whilst assisting DIRCO with repatriation efforts,” explains Hayley Reichert, volunteer admin team member from Home Away From Home.

“As time ticks by, more desperation arises. Those stranded are facing a plethora of issues including financial, logistical and psychological. There are many incredibly sensitive and delicate situations we are assisting with behind the scenes. And with the disastrous news of SAA’s final collapse, and without a miracle, there is grave concern as to how more than 2000 stranded citizens around the world are going to get home. This number will continue to rise each time SA airspace and port closure is extended during the lockdown.”

Home Away From Home aims to fundraise a minimum of US$30,000 (R562 794) to charter a A320 aircraft and make the historic flight possible. This is the shortfall in leasing the aircraft after current sourced donations, payments and other deductions.

“To Max, we’ll do everything we can to help your dad momentarily fly above the clouds with you, hopefully catching your smile one last time in the sun’s rays on the horizon before being reunited with your sister and your mom,” says Home Away From Home. ” ‘Spread your wings, it’s time to fly. Make the leap, own the sky.’”

To donate to this worthwhile cause, click here and follow the instructions. A facility to donate directly into international forex can also be arranged by emailing [email protected] with the subject line ‘Max Claase Charter’.

Picture: Supplied

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