Howick and Makaphutu
06.04.2014 - 12.04.2014
Sunday is my designated day off and a few of the volunteers headed up to Howick Falls, north of Pietermaritzburg.
Nearby is the site of Nelson Mandela's capture in 1962, where there is now a photographic exhibition and a recently unveiled memorial.
I spent much of the week at Lily of the Valley (the larger children's village with nursery, primary school and medical clinic on site) which involved getting the lively 7am school bus from Makaphutu, where the early hour does nothing to temper the enthusiastic singalong to Zulu-pop.
Some of the children have, quite understandably given their backgrounds, emotional, behavioural and attention problems and I have been asked by the Lily clinic doctor to help the house mothers complete some baseline evaluations. I joined Grade 3 for a day and also met with the Special Needs teacher to discuss the issues they face in school.
Hannah and I were asked to join the Community Care Givers from 1000 Hills Clinic on house visits so they could get our opinion on a few of the patients they see who are unable to make it to the clinic. Twelve of us piled in to the back of the ambulance and headed off, occasionally stopping to move a cow out of the road.
The surrounding rural township has relatively high levels of poverty and some of the people we visited explained the difficulties in getting pensions or grants when too ill to work. The most distressing case was an elderly lady, left bedridden by a stroke and neglected by her sons. If no one remembered to bring her food she wouldn't eat and her blood pressure had become uncontrolled (so putting her at risk of a further stroke) as she had run out of medication. We were able to take her in the ambulance to the local government clinic for assessment and medication and the Home Care manager from 1000 Hills set about organising a temporary bed whilst a care home could be found. The Community Care Givers go door-to-door to identify those in need of help and if they were not around I dread to think what would have happened.
Back at Makaphutu I've worked out most of the children's names, but still cause great mirth when I attempt any of the various clicks that pop up all over the place in Zulu. We've been supervising homework club, seeing any children the housemothers are concerned about and had a Saturday Maths training session in preparation for the next Olympics. This week's view is brought to you by the imaginatively named 'The View' pancake house, where I tried SA specialty bunny chow (no bunnies were harmed in the making of this dish).