February 14, 2012 § Leave a comment
February 14, 2012 § 1 Comment
We arrived on Sunday the 14th of August in a very sunny Cape Town. After a two-hour stop we boarded a plane to Durban. We had a 30-minute stop in a grey Port Elisabeth and we landed in a wet and very cold Durban. Jumpers, fleece and winter gear were needed. It was great to see old friends. The kids are older, taller and more cheeky and the new arrival baby Rhain was only one week old.
On day one Natasha, a school nurse with a past A&E background, and I were in the clinic. It was a quiet day with less than 20 people. We had meetings in the afternoon with the management of the children’s village as Natasha had the exciting task of initiating sexual health/sex education workshops in Lily. The meetings were very positive and at times challenging as Lily is a Christian orphanage.
We went into the township to see those not well enough to attend the clinic and although I have been here six times now, the poverty still strikes me – especially that in this day and age we still have no running water, no electricity and heating in a lot of the houses! But as always the people of Mophela and Sankonthse take it into their stride and are always welcoming to us.
The sex education and sexual health workshops were very positive and well received by our kids. A lot of questions were asked and we will be doing the same for the Lily Primary School staff and on Friday we were in the local Secondary School called Gabi Gabi to talk to their teenagers. HIV and AIDS and teenage pregnancies are very high here and we want to inform the teenagers to be careful, use protection and to be aware of the STDs around.
The weekends were really relaxing. One weekend we woke up early in the morning to go for a drive in the game reserve Tala, our neighbour. We managed to see all the animals; giraffes, hippos, rhinos, ostriches, zebras, wildebeest, and kuddus were all waiting for us. The beach in Durban, Umhlanga Rocks, was a lovely place to chillax in the afternoon. Afterwards some shopping in a big shopping mall in Durban and then the next day the bright and warm African sun was out and we spent time with some of the other volunteers on a hill in the gardens watching the wildlife in Bushwood Villa, on the border of Lily and Tala.
The work was varied. One day someone was unwell and for a minute I was back in my A&E years. The patient needed IV fluids (a drip) and hospitalisation. Because of illness the nurse practitioner was off and Tash and I were manning the entire clinic. We had seen 20+ patients until that point and we never knew what would be coming our way.
These trips always make me look at life differently. You appreciate what you have even more and it also makes me realise that the work of TWOWEEKS has been incredible. We have been coming to this place for 5-6 years now and people know us, welcome us and the work and look how we have grown.
Words by Patricia Rijsenburg
January 22, 2012 § Leave a comment
August heralded a further trip to Lily comprising of Patricia (trustee and doctor) and Natasha (a nurse). They had aimed to assist with the clinic at Lily, but it turned out that they did more than assist as the doctor that usually runs the clinic at Lily and the nurse practitioner both became unwell just after Patricia arrived. She therefore ended up running the clinic singlehandedly, bless her. She was so busy seeing patients and from all reports, did an excellent job.
Natasha assisted in the clinic, but also did some sex education with the older children at Lily. Now in the past, Lily, being a Christian organisation, taught abstinence regarding this sensitive matter. However, we had been saying that whilst this is a good idea in some respects, it is not realistic in others and now that our children are living longer and getting older, it is important to address this situation as a number of them have HIV & AIDS. Well, it took a few years, but Lily finally agreed and 2011 was our first year with ‘Sex Ed’ and it went down a storm. In fact, news of Natasha’s work shops spread and she ended up going to a local school in the township and another orphanage linked to Lily called Makaphutu. On my return in November, people were still asking after her and whether she could come back and talk to their children or students. It nearly got to the stage that I was
taking bookings – I was so proud.
But again, that was not where her dedication and passion ended. Natasha came back to the UK and realising that a lot of the older girls were without bras (due to underwear being a luxury there), she is now in the process of setting up a charity to provide bras (and pants) to the older girls at Lily and perhaps one day, the ladies in the township as well. Again – fantastic!!! So once again, even thought someone was present at the project for only two weeks, they have gone on to do other things and continue the work they started. Natasha is hoping to return to Lily in 2012.
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.