TWOWEEKS March 2011 Trip Update: Lily of the Valley Orphanage in South Africa

January 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

The march trip to South Africa had four pharmacists travel, along with Richard (who also happens to be my brother) and I. The pharmacists did medication reviews in the community and also assisted with the clinic and the children at Lily. They really opened my eyes to what pharmacists can do. But they did not stop there – they also did fundraising by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and jumped out of a plane for TWOWEEKS as well. Bless them! And after coming back from their ‘world tour of adventures’, they continued to look at ways to get cheap meds from drug companies to help supply the Lily clinic.

Richard was meant to help with food distribution, but as is often the case in South Africa, things rarely go to plan. So we arrived at Lily to be informed that they had already distributed the food that they had for the month. He was understandably really disappointed, but ended up working with the older children at Lily and playing football with the men in the township as there is a pitch at Lily that many of the township folks come to. Now, this may sound a bit frivolous, but it was in fact a very good thing. We often go out into the community and a lot of our preparation for volunteers focuses on educating them about being safe. Crime is a real problem in South Africa and all of our volunteers must be aware and prepared. But after Richard played football and also went to a football tournament in the township, we subsequently went into the township and the young men that we had often viewed with suspicion and caution were now asking after Richard and knew that I was his sister. They even went as far as to compliment him on his ability to play football. After this, our trips into the community seemed less threatening and in truth, less stressful. It was a really good thing and we felt safer for it.

Words by Karen Patten


TWOWEEKS May/June Trip to SKIP in Peru

January 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

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TWOWEEKS November Trip to Lily of The Valley in South Africa

January 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

November was our final trip of the year. Again we had a small team going out to Lily with Samina (trustee and doctor), Kamal (IT specialist and soon-to-be-teacher) and myself. Our team was small due to issues regarding accommodation that had plagued our trips in 2011 and this was the time to sort it out.

So we headed to Lily and had meeting after meeting with folks old and new, to try and sort out various issues that the TWOWEEKS team and volunteers had been experiencing. It was tiring and sometimes frustrating as we constantly had to ‘educate’ folks about the vision and work of TWOWEEKS and provide evidence of our effectiveness but little by little with each meeting, we began to win folks round and they saw what we had achieved and the potential of what we could do in the future. Our mission was accomplished and we have been given permission to build a house at Lily for our volunteers. We will also buy a vehicle of our own as well, as hiring one when we go on trips is very costly. Now all we have to do is raise the money!!!! But once we have built our TWOWEEKS home, it will be much easier to send volunteers and also leave equipment and supplies, which will save time and money and valuable space in our suitcases!

Kamal worked with the older children on their careers and future and this went well. With our children getting older and surviving, Lily never had to think about their future or things like securing jobs for them. They are truly ‘institutionalised’ and getting them to be inspired and out of the orphanage ‘everything is given to me’ mentality is not easy. Kamal also worked with the community in the IT school and provided classes on developing CVs and covering letters. She also taught students how to navigate the internet and look up things and send documents. This was a great success also. On our final day at Lily, two of her students approached Kamal and asked to take pictures with her. They thanked her for her help and it was smiles all around. It was a good moment and illustrated how much she had achieved as they talked about the jobs they hoped to get now that they had a CV and covering letter. It made me realise that whilst we have been gathering statistics to present to sponsors and supporters (to prove effectiveness), at the end of the day it is all about the individual and the impact our help can make for even one person, their family and their future. Again, I was really proud of what Kamal achieved.

I should also add that Kamal held a fundraising house warming party before our trip and her friends and family generously donated £480 to TWOWEEKS.

Samina and I not only met with what seemed like every hospital and NGO official in the district, but we also attended to children and staff at Lily, worked in the clinic and piloted a new scheme to roll out health checks to children in local schools in surrounding townships. This was really exciting as within seeing our first few children in a kindergarten class, we picked up heart murmurs, suspected urinary tract infections, cases of HIV & AIDS and a suspected case of diabetes. And that was just one class! We went on to discover even more with each class and school we visited and it really illustrated the need for such a service. Getting check ups are not really done in the poorer communities of South Africa and as a result many things get missed which invariably affects education, development and indeed survival. We presented our findings to Lily and also with local institutions and one hospital director and they were really interested in what we had done and asked for our report as they would like to extend this scheme.

This is really exciting for us and indeed the communities it will help and we hope to continue assisting with this program in the future with not only medical volunteers, but other specialists as the scope for developing this program with dentists, special needs teachers, social workers and so on, is huge.

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