One hears many horror stories of internet love affairs gone wrong, but then every now and then a true love story with a happy ending unfolds, as it did for a young Mooinooi woman and her Dutch beau she met on Facebook.
“I had a dream. I dreamt two years ago that I would meet the love of my life at an airport. I have a thing with dreams, and when I saw Raymond standing there, I realised my dream had come true.”
Verucka Sneddon (35) and Raymond Sigo (60) have been cosily living together in a guesthouse in Hartbeespoort for the past year after the COVID-19 lockdown left Raymond stranded in South Africa in March last year, and they are now waiting for Verucka to get a visa so they can start a new life in Holland.
“The lockdown has actually been a good thing for us. Although we knew immediately after finally meeting each other that we genuinely loved each other, this time together has allowed us to really get to know each other and has made our relationship stronger,” says Raymond, a software developer from Ede in Holland.
Verucka and Raymond’s love story started 18 months ago when both joined the Facebook game “Witchcraft – a game about magic, witches, wizards, dragons, monsters, and alchemy.”
For Verucka the game was an escape from her life. “I was in a physical and mentally abusive relationship and I escaped into the fantasy world of the game. In September 2019, the two lovebirds played against each other and after Raymond’s team won, Verucka sent him a message that “war was declared”. After this, they chatted regularly on social media platforms and a solid friendship developed.
“The chats got more personal, and I started sharing what was happening in my life. I wanted to get out of my abusive relationship, but I couldn’t. Raymond encouraged me to find alternative accommodation and get away from the abuse and offered to pay for it. I refused three times,” she remembers. But one day, after another abuse incident, she relented, and moved in with a friend.
“I told him I would accept his offer if there were no strings attached. I did not want a relationship. We were simply good friends.”
Raymond, in turn, assured her that he only wanted to help her as a friend. “We grew really close, and I was worried about her. I was also in a relationship at the time and I just wanted to be a friend to Verucka.”
After Verucka moved out of her home, the couple spent more time talking and then realised the feelings have grown into more than friendship.
“One night I received a message from him saying that he had fallen in love with me. I was so happy… I told him I loved him too,” she says, wiping tears from her eyes as she remembers the night. “I cannot describe the feelings I felt. I genuinely loved this person as I have never loved anyone.”
Raymond ended his relationship in Holland and the two got into a ‘cyber relationship’. They laugh. “Sometimes the video call would be active for the whole weekend. I wanted her to come to Holland,” Raymond says. “We tried to get a visa for her but couldn’t, and then I decided to come here. I got the last plane out of Holland just before they closed the borders during the lockdown in Holland. I was petrified that someone on the plane’s temperature would be above normal and they ground us,” he laughs.
Neither of them will forget that first sight at the airport. “I thought ‘wow! He looks younger… he is hot!’ she laughs.
Raymond in turn though Verucka was “pretty, cute, and small. “I was extremely excited to meet her, and it just felt natural to be together. We were not strangers and we spent the first night talking until the sun came up.”
Since then, the couple has been inseparable. They do everything together. “We have only been apart for an hour in the past year, and I started crying,” Verucka says. “I cannot be without him.” Raymond agrees. “I don’t want to do anything without her.”
In preparation for a ‘long stay’ visa, Verucka had to learn to speak, read and write Dutch, as well as study Dutch culture. She passed the exams with flying colours. “All my marks were between 90 and 100%,” she boasts.
“It is extremely difficult and a lengthy process to acquire a visa, but we will get it. I am not leaving without her,” Raymond says.
The two will get married in Holland. And how does the small-town girl, who has not travelled, feel about the future waiting for her?
“I am scared… scared about not being accepted, of the unknown… But I know I will be safe with Raymond. I trust him with all my heart and know he will look after me. God has sent me an angel…”