Lockdown has been brutally difficult for many homeless people who have had to endure not only harassment from authorities but had to frequently grapple with hunger.
But Cape Town newlyweds Daniel and Amber Kepkey came out stronger. No amount of distress, persecution, or famine could separate them. This week the two lovebirds celebrated their love in the presence of family and friends — thanks to a community worker Dawn Roode, who organised the couple a dream wedding.
On Tuesday, droves of homeless people and some good Samaritans who donated towards their wedding gathered at Roode’s home in Kuils River to celebrate with the couple shortly after they tied the knot at Bellville magistrate’s court.
“It’s a day I will never forget. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that our wedding would turn out the way it did. I felt like a queen … the only thing that I didn’t have to show my royalty is a crown. It still feels so surreal, even now,” said Amber.
Amber, 32, and Daniel, 28, were both living with their parents when they met at a local supermarket in Bishop Lavis.
Daniel, who hopes to become a preacher some day, said he was attracted to Amber the minute he laid his eyes on her, and followed her through the shop to get her contact details. From that day they have been inseparable, and seven months ago, just before the lockdown, they moved into a makeshift shack in Kuils River.
Daniel proposed at a shopping mall in September, and they went to home affairs to book a date to exchange their vows. After sharing the news of their pending marriage with Roode, who runs a soup kitchen and has been feeding them over the past seven months, she set the wheels for the wedding in motion.
Roode says setting up the wedding was her way of healing from her own trauma, after she lost about 12 close relatives and friends in the past three weeks. Roode said they all died unexpectedly — of Covid-19 and others of cancer and heart attacks.
Her best friend had died of heart attack two days before the Kepkeys told her of their plans to get married.
“I was still in a state of mourning and my spirit was really down. I had asked the Lord to show me something positive that I could do for others as I wanted to get out of the space I was in. After they told me I said, this is it Lord! I told them we will make this marriage special.”
The word spread and resulted in people sponsoring everything from the wedding rings, the wedding outfits, the food and even a hotel stay to celebrate their wedding night.
“Everything came in doubles, they got two wedding cakes and two wedding dresses, and lots of clothes. On the day of the wedding, Amber was still stressing about her hair not being done, but on that day I got a call from a hairdresser calling for Amber to go have her hair done. Everything was just miraculous,” said Roode.
The feast, attended by more than 200 people, included curry and roti, barbecue chicken, ice cream, jelly and custard.
Daniel said his priority now is to find a job to support his wife and future children.
“I want Amber to continue feeling like a queen. The priority now is to find a piece of land on which to put the Wendy house that a donor promised us. After that, we can stand on our own feet. The future looks promising.”