Hi Everyone! Sorry I took this long to blog again. I have been without internet access, and even though now it has been restored, it is still rather patchy. Unfortunately I can’t guarantee when I will be able to blog again so this is my chance.

Since my last post, we have been reassigned from the hospice children to home-based care. Now every weekday we go out with a nurse (there’s a team of about 8 of these nurses) and visit palliative patients in their homes. Palliative means that these patients have some illness (cancer, AIDS, multi-drug resistant tuberculosis) that they are eventually going to die of, but either it is not in a crisis stage so they can stay at home (rather than being admitted to the hospice) or it’s so far gone that there is nothing more we can do for them other than manage their pain and give them TLC (tender loving care). We visit between 3 and 7 patients in a day, and we do everything from changing catheters (gross!) and dressing wounds to checking blood sugar and bathing them. It’s not exciting, glamorous, or adventurous, but we get to see a lot of different people. And I have been exposed to poverty like I have never seen close at hand before.  I really don’t know how to explain because the minute I say anything it sounds trite, cliché, or stereotypical, but imagine living in a house built out of cardboard, sticks, and corrugated tin that’s half the size of my dorm room. You have no running water, and maybe a little electricity from a stolen, half-used generator. Your house is literally 3 feet away from your neighbors. It reeks of a mix of human sweat and urine and rat feces. We complain about Graham-Lees, well, these people would give their right arm to live in my dorm room. And they would probably let you have all their limbs if you would take them to America. That’s the worst we see. It’s not all like that. Some people have quite comfortable homes, though still smaller and simpler than what we are used to. I have found that a home’s standard of hygiene, more than its size, makes a remarkable difference in its livability. What we have seen here has certainly shifted my perspective. I am intensely proud of being a Washington and Lee General, but it’s easy to lose your footing when you live in such an idyllic community. Reality is such a different story for most of our world.

I am enjoying our work, especially getting to know the nurses we work with. In a way they are our passports into communities that two white American college students would not typically be accepted into. On the weekends, we have not had the chance yet to travel much, but we did spend last Saturday on the beach at Herold’s Bay, which I absolutely loved. Nature’s beauty was a relief to the eyes and the spirit after Timbalethu and Protea Park.

Well, that’s all for now. Feel free to ask questions about anything I didn’t cover well!

Advertisements