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The Caring Radio Station That Transforms Lives


With her life failing before her after losing her daughter to crime, Audrey Barrett said events took an unexpected turn in the right direction when radio station HOT 91.9FM, through its Hot Cares campaign, stepped in and “became my family”.

Barrett said she had been at work when she received a call that would change her life forever. It was from her daughter, frantically telling her about armed robbers who were trying to break into her home. A robber shot her daughter through her arm and stomach and made off with the only valuables in the house, two cellphones.

Her daughter was immediately rushed to hospital but died the following morning from her wounds.

Before this, life was never a walk in the park for the single mother of two, one of whom was physically and mentally disabled.

Their already strained livelihoods took a dip when her late daughter, aged 33, had to stop working because they couldn’t afford her transport. Her son, who was living with cerebral palsy, had to walk about 7km to and from work every day.

“A friend of mine told a neighbour who knew people at the radio station, running the ‘Touching 100 Lives’ campaign in July in honour of Madiba (Mandela). That’s how they heard of my story and decided to help me. Hot Cares has changed my life!”

She said besides buying her a washing machine and a car which allows her to take her son to work and back, Hot Cares gave her what she did not have for a long time.

“I don’t have many friends, but Hot Cares has become the family I don’t have … after helping me by making my life much easier, they still call me to find out how I’m doing, they even connect with me on Facebook and we are constantly messaging on Whatsapp. That’s personal!

“For people who are struggling, it is just a matter of being positive. And I know it’s not easy … I’m now packing my daughter’s things and it’s hard, I think I even need to go for counselling. But if you are going through something, go into the community and surround yourself with positive people. Don’t be alone … you’d be surprised, there are people out there who actually care,” said Barrett.

Simon Parkinson, the presenter of the Big Drive on HOT 91.9FM, said: “For me, the biggest thing was when you listen to a story like that in the studio you automatically put yourself and your family into that position. The more she told the story, on air, the more it horrified me and I got increasingly emotional. I kept wondering how I would’ve reacted and dealt with her situation. I questioned: How you could move forward and do you have a will to live after experiencing something so horrific.

“I found Audrey to be incredibly practical. She was angry, sad and bewildered but she also realised that she had other commitments and had to carry on. No person anywhere in the world should have to go through what she went through.”

Parkinson added: “Hot Cares can’t take away the pain, but what we can do is try to help with the practical issues and the big thing is that we could help her concentrate her efforts on where they needed to be. She needs to take care of her son and all her love needs to be focused on him.”

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