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Medical Aid and Care for Refugees and AIDS Patients in South Africa

June 3, 2009

"Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one come to you without leaving happier." 

Mother Teresa

 

Trip Report - 2009


This year, the WMP South Africa team brought in three 50 pound tubs of special nutrition tabets from "Save the Children."  Each tub contained 500 vitamin cubes that would be used in specially constructed meal packets. The team also brought in 30 large funnels and measuring spoons for Rev. Robertson, South African Methodist Church, who is organizing the creation and distribution of these high-nutrition meal packets for needy families in urban and rural areas and orphanages.

 

 

Trip Report - 2008

 

The lives of some of the estimated 1.5 million- 2 million Zimbabwean refugees in South Africa can be difficult... We witnessed some 800-900 people sleeping on the floors and stairwells of a single Methodist church (Central Methodist, Bishop Paul Verryn) in downtown Johannesburg. Terrible conditions--- the noise, the masses of people you can't even manage to step over, the almost impossible situation these refugees are put in... kids as young as 12 and 14 being the sole support and "head of their families" of siblings and grandparents... people needing health care and medications and being sent away as they are unrecognized refugees... people stealing the very shoes off the children's feet at night, and so on...

 

 The WMP members worked with the church's newly opened refugee school for 135 orphaned/abandoned teenagers -- only 4 of the kids have parents. Some had watched their parents and family and neighbors being abused, tortured or killed in the terrible conflict in Zimbabwe. Some of the kids just look shell-shocked from the things they have seen and been through in their short little lives... For the full story on the Albert Street Refugee School, see the accompanying "Refugee School - S Africa" page on this website.

Due to the Xenophobia ("fear of foreigners") and recent spate of violence in South Africa, Johannesburg - especially at night - has become quite dangerous. But the WMP members served as a medical team with the late evening inner-city program that feeds and cares for people living on the streets, Paballo ya Batho (see below), which in seSotho means "Caring for the People."  The program goes out at night (6:30-10 p.m.) and feeds soup, water and sandwiches to the homeless population in downtown Johannesburg. Dr. Tom Flowers and Roxane Richter, EMT, gave out primary medical suplies and medical help (mainly to asses and then get the "serious" TB and HIV/AIDS cases to the local clinic).

Paballo ya Batho means 'Caring for the People' in seSotho, and part of this NGO's mission is to go into the city and serve people living on the streets, standing alongside them.

This soup kitchen goes out to meet the people where they live, with two convoys visiting half-a-dozen stops in central Johannesburg, reaching out to about 500 homeless people.

For more information on Paballo, visit their site at www.paballo.org.za or contact N'dai Mncedisi, Paballo's director at ndai@paballo.org.za.

 

During the trip, the WMP team donated $1,200 in items and cash to the refugee school (see WMP webpage "Refugee School - S Africa"), donated medical supplies to  AmCare (http://www.amcare.org.za/), and WMP members also went to visit, help, and bring some supplies to a missionary serving in Swaziland, an independent kingdom ruled by a single king and his family.

But we feel like we offered a lot of HOPE and GREAT LOVE to the homeless people and refugees we met and served, whom we now call our friends... Alpha, William, Raphel, Fungayi, Ishmael, Calista --- People who are forever engraved in our hearts.

 

Trip Report - 2007


These are literally tin shacks, often only around 6ft x 10ft in size and housing maybe 4-6 people. There is no electricity or running water. It gets down to -3C at night. Yet this is where children are at their most vulnerable; child-headed families; death of parents due to AIDS; low or no employment; no money for schools; poverty at every turn.

Khanyisile:

In three townships outside of Johannesburg, Khanyisile provides HIV/AIDS services to a community that includes 4 million people and has a very high HIV infection rate. The project provides counseling, home-based care, and income generation activities to people living with HIV/AIDS. Child care services and AIDS education are provided to the wider community.

$20 U.S. provides school uniform and school fees for one child. 

$70 U.S. provides supplies for a beadwork project for one month. 

This is a new and exciting opportunity for WMP to help and support a wonderful community based organization in Khatlehong. The township is quite poor. Although on the outskirts of Johannesburg, it is a rural/urban community of extreme poverty. Khanyisile is a Methodist community service set up to help children and families in the area. Our team’s interest is to offer medical care and support to the day-care facilities for vulnerable small children with AIDS or illnesses.

The centre was started by local people with the support of the church and they do three main things:

  1. Home based care – they take food parcels, visit the sick and identify vulnerable children

  2. Child care – a safe haven for vulnerable small children all day with two meals, an after school meal and lessons for older vulnerable children

  3. Gardens project – growing food to feed the children and put in the food parcels

The WMP 2007 team donated over 200 lbs. of medication to Khanyisile. The team donated medical equipment such as blood pressure cuffs and monitors, stethoscopes, and glucometers. The staff must deal with nutritional and gastrointestinal issues, as AIDS patients  suffer from severe dehydration, intestinal cramping and other G/I issues.

The team also met with the staff of Khanyisile’s clinic and discussed the treatment of area TB patients. The team also met with the AIDS outreach staff and discussed nutrition, mealie meal distribution and the wellness intake/triage/patient assessment at the clinic.

The team then met with the staff director and head of staff at Epworth Children’s Home, did a building-by-building assessment of maintenance issues, repair work and the team lodging. The staff met with the team and discussed potential work and current educational and facility needs. The team was also allowed to interact and play with the children who were residents at Epworth, and the staff served as interpreters for the children.

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