Tag:south africa

iStock_000001821815XSmallI'm at the orphanage right now.  It's the only place with wireless internet (the Sizanani Outreach offices are here too) and I'm literally surrounded by TEN kids haha. They're loving this laptop I am using... kinda making it hard to type. I put on Disney songs so they can enjoy. They are seriously so cute. I love them all and I want to take them allllll home with me.

I'm sitting next to a little 13 year old boy who is reading this email as I type it. haha. He wants me to tell you all that he says hello. All of the other kids say hello as well. Man I cannot describe to you how awesome they are, and so beautiful. One of my favorites is a little six year old who has AIDS and so is the size of a 4 year old. He is extremely smart and always goofing around. To be honest, all the kids are my favorite.

They all have such good little hearts and despite their circumstance, they are all fairly well behaved and happy. It's amazing what people can do with so little. Makes me really realize how incredibly spoiled I am.

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6290_505309147570_330900025_142048_2899708_nToday (Thursday) I went out to a rural clinic. This was my first time in one of their "taxis," and I would not recommend it to those with a sensitive nose. I feel bad talking about it, because I really just need to get over it, but to get through it, I had to concentrate on taking quick and shallow breaths so as not to fill my nostrils too much. As one could imagine, people who live in tiny mud huts don't typically have showers or access to running water of any kind. If they do get a chance to bathe, it is often without soap. Then, they cram 15 people into a tiny van and OH MY GOSH!  (Am I sounding like a spoiled American here? Probably, but part of the reason I am writing this is to document a growing experience, and getting over or dealing with my sensitivity to smells is a big hurdle for me).

At the rural clinic, I visited a support group, another crowded room, over 20 people in a 10' x 10' room (another growing experience?). They were all speaking Zulu, so I obviously couldnt understand a word, but one of the counselors was nice enough to translate every now and then. They were all AIDS patients of the clinic and were meeting to discuss the death of two other patients in the last week. They discussed gathering money for the surviving families and other ways they could help. Every few minutes they would all break out into song.  I am told that the Zulu people pray through song -- it's really beautiful, actually.

 

nkandla-sisterellenThe last couple of days have been really cool! Yesterday I was able to go to one of the clinics with Sister Ellen and one of her assistants who is a health care worker. The clinic was packed with people seeking medical aid. The purpose for our visit was to meet with clients that are currently on antiretroviral therapy (ART). Our job was to check their adherence to the regimen and to follow up on their blood work and modify anything if needed. In South Africa, the CD4 count must be below 200/mm3 in order for the clients to qualify for ART. In other words, these people have to be VERY sick before they can get the medication they need.

While a third of the people here test positive for HIV, the number one killer is Tuberculosis. Luckily the Sizanani Outreach (who I'm working for) also does TB testing. The types of patients we saw yesterday ranged from a lady with AIDS that came in to apply for a Disability Grant (because over 90% of the people here are unemployed, the government has to subsidize most of their living), to a 13 year old boy with AIDS needing a refill on medication (he came alone to the clinic).

Sister Ellen is an incredibly hard worker. She was a doctor in Germany and has been living here for almost 30 years. I can't imagine the things she has seen and has had to do.

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6290_505309267330_330900025_142053_2683150_nWe got into Nkandla on Saturday evening.  The drive from Jo'burg was about 7 hours. uuuugh. But is was really pretty, kept wanting to see lions running along side the car... Ya.. Didn't happen. Just cows and goats EVERYWHERE!!!

I love it! The town I am in is really rural and quite poor. Im staying at a catholic convent with 8 or so sister nuns that are all soooooo cute. Most of the food we eat is from their own gardens (mom you would love it). The days have been relatively warm but then nights are always freeezing. Luckily we have little space heaters and tons of blankets :) So far we've visited the Velangaye Highschool and met the students, principal etc. and gone to "the center" which is the orphanage. The natives are soooo friendly here.

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