Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Senzangethemba Encounter


I'm starting to get well acquainted with everything in South Africa. My Zulu is getting better, as well as my sleep patterns and the daily routine is getting more familiar. The day care is such an amazing place. I got put on First Aid duty, which was interesting to say the least.

There are lots of problems with worms (like ringworm), fungal infections, and the usual cuts and bruises. Burns are strangely common. I patched up a young boy on Monday who said he had been cut by a knife on his knuckle. Another had worms in their foot, and worm eggs in her thumb that we had to squeeze out. She cried so hard, tears streaming down her face. My St. Johns First Aid Course did NOT prepare me for this sort of thing. Today one of the little boys in my group was throwing up everywhere and I had to sit and rub his back while he just was in hysterics. It seemed oddly normal.

I'm already attached to a particular baby. Apparently he's been attending the day care for a couple of months. When he came, I'm told all he did was cry. His hair is still orange, and his belly a little swollen, but he eats lots and seems generally healthy. He doesn't however, respond to movement and voices like a Canadian child would.

All the kids often look very serious, especially the babies. They get so much joy out of small things like being swung around by their hands, rubbed on the head or even given food. One day we gave them all sweets, and it was so exciting.

There are many other projects that we're working on at the moment. On Friday, we're breaking ground on the new day care centre, to replace the broken-down church-shack that is now used. There is a farming project for an HIV support group, where women can cultivate vegetables to sell them, or keep them for their families. Making bricks by hand to build the new day care is another afternoon activity. Planning lessons on HIV education for the support group are also interesting activities during the afternoon.

There's lots of work to be done. I've packed care packages for the HIV positive women who come to the support group, made 60 huge bricks (with the help of volunteers Sam, Elaine and Lucky), and farmed the plot. I'm looking forward to planning next week's lessons and to some activities we've got planned for the weekend. A bonfire on the beach, maybe a surfing lesson, and a Zulu language lesson. Max, one of the other volunteers from Germany, has also started teaching me German!

Until Next Time!


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