Sawubona from Umkomaas 👋
I thought I would do a post to update you on our final weeks in PE and the start of our volunteer journey in Khanya hospice.
Our final couple of weeks in PE were very chilled. We made the most of having absolutely nothing to do!
We spent a lot of time here…
We ate at our favourite PE restaurant Blue Waters Cafe…
And we did a lot of relaxing in the garden with a book or three!
It was BLISS! The weather was perfect 🌞 almost every day with the exception of a few very blustery days 💨
On Christmas eve we went to a carol service in Happy Valley. I’ve been spoilt over the past few years by the amazing carol services at Glenabbey church at home. This one was pathetic. It was run by the Salvation Army and the woman leading the singing couldn’t sing a note 🙉 we had to get up and leave half way through as we just couldn’t bear it a second longer 😂 I had my own carol service in the car on the way home!
Christmas day in the sun was really strange. On Christmas morning I made Jonny keep the blinds & curtains closed so that it was dark enough to feel a little bit Christmassy 🎄 Santa was very good to us all the way on the other side of the world 🎅 (proof that he exists!)
We didn’t bother with a turkey dinner as I have never made one before and after the disaster in the kitchen on our last attempt I thought it was better to avoid any more drama. I did make my first ever roast chicken dinner though! And it was pretty tasty if I do say so myself 🙂
After a Skype sesh with our families I spent the night with my favourite Christmas present ever. My Millie Marotta colouring book! I have waited for so long to be the owner of one of these – and it was totally worth the wait!
We missed our families loads on Christmas day but we reminded ourselves that it was only one year! We will be even more thankful for Christmas with family next year ❤
On Boxing day we went to stay at the Radisson Blu courtesy of Jonny’s mum & dad. It was really lovely!
Then we went back to being lazy beach bums between Christmas and new year. Jonny made me go to see Star Wars at the cinema on one of the blustery days – 2 hours of my life that I will never get back 🙈
We had a lovely Braai at friends of Jonny’s parents which started 2016 off nicely. They had just got a new rescue puppy that day which I just fell in love with 😍🐶 unfortunately during our visit she got attacked by their jealous cat & ended up with a big red eye 😥 it was so sad.
The beach life continued until our final day in PE. We had planned to really enjoy the final day of our “holiday” but wouldn’t you know the weather completely changed! It was wet, windy & really dull 👎 but never worry – that just gave us (or me I should say!) a good excuse to go to Baywest mall for a final shopping/ WiFi/ cinema/ food date in PE. We went to see In the Heart of the Ocean – the movie based on Moby Dick. It was really good 🐳 although pretty difficult to watch at times as a lover of whales!
On Wednesday we boarded a flight and made our way north to Durban. The travelling part of our trip was officially over! It was quite an emotional day for us.
We arrived at the hospice accommodation exhausted on Wednesday night ready to start volunteering the next day…
We are still getting our heads around what we’re going to be doing over the next two months. I’ll be able to give you more information on what the hospice is about and what we are getting up to as I get to know more about it. But very basically the hospice is a palliative care community based team made up of a CEO, nurses, care givers, admin & voluntary staff.
Our first two days here were real eye openers, especially for me as I have never seen such terrible living conditions before.
We spent the day with a nurse & a care giver going out to visit patients in quite rural townships. It’s unbelievable in SA that you can go from seeing mansions to shacks within a few miles of each other.
Our first visit was to a 37 year old man who has HIV, TB, meningitis and he is also paralysed. He only weighed 44kg and a simple task like lifting his phone was obviously difficult for him. He was only being admitted to hospice care that day so we got his background information (which I tried my best to interpret from body language and what the nurse was writing as the whole conversation was in Zulu) and we left him some nappies and gauze to treat a pressure sore that he had.
We saw a few more patients with HIV. There was a man who had been in hospital really ill over Christmas but had been discharged the day before our visit. Everyone was really happy to see him laughing and sitting up in bed as apparently he hadn’t even been able to say a few words on the nurses last visit. He was getting a B12 injection but was adamant that he didn’t want it. We assumed it was because of a needle phobia but it transpired that it was because he had seen the hospice car at a house across the road a couple of years ago and he then thought he died because of the injection the nurse was going to give him! The lack of education for some of these people really hinders their chances of getting better 😥
It’s so sad that in 2016 so many people are still dying because of HIV related illnesses when it can be prevented. Unfortunately we saw two of these cases on day 1 – two women had died of cancer (there’s an increased chance of certain cancers in HIV patients). Both were in their mid 30’s. Both had left behind grieving mothers & young children.
The final man we saw also had HIV and had also had a stroke which left him blind. He spends his days lying in his bed unable to sit up and weighs around 40kgs. I was amazed that he was still able to smile & laugh when he was in such a bad way. The nurses are going to take him a wedge to enable him to sit up.
We also picked up a food donation from one of the supermarkets – Checkers. They had given two big bags of baked goodies – probably not the best thing for some of these people but it’s much better than nothing. The nurses told us that sometimes they get tins of beans etc which are much better for the patients.
The main thing that was highlighted to us during day 1 was a severe lack of medication. Simple things like diarrhoea tablets & paracetamol are scarce. One of the nurses told us yesterday that legislation here doesn’t allow palliative care nurses to carry medication in the community 😱😱
We visited a ‘house of safety’ which is basically a home for children who have been removed from their parents care as they are at risk in some way. We didn’t know the children’s stories but abuse and neglect seemed to be the reason for some of them staying here.
Our day started helping the teenagers to clean their rooms. Then we sat and chatted with them. One was called Precious and she was such a wee busy body – she made us very welcome and gave us a tour of the house. It was really sad to see how these children were living. They had the bare minimum. I didn’t see any toys for the younger children and their “living room” had nothing in it other than a broken TV & broken table tennis table. In the bathrooms there was no soap or toilet roll.
I got playing with the two youngest children in the house – a little 4 year old called Hope and 3 year old called Thapelo. The joy in their wee faces when I was passing a marble(!) back and forth to them was unbelievable. It was obvious that all they wanted was a bit of love and attention.
We spent the afternoon playing in the garden with them. Jonny became a human climbing frame while I was glued to the swings with the two babies of the house. It was VERY tiring! Especially for Jonny who is not used to working with such young children 😂 I did have a few giggles at how exhausted he looked.
After lunch we sat in one of the bedrooms and watched some TV with them. It was here that I felt most sad for these kiddies – all they wanted was to hug you, play with your hair or sit on your knee. Thapelo tired himself out running across the room into my arms.
Then it was time for us to leave. They made us promise we would come back (which we definitely will). Thapelo grasped onto my baby finger so tight and wouldn’t let go and was saying something over and over in Zulu. The older children told me he was saying “don’t go!” 😥 You have no idea how much I wanted to just bring him home with me.
We left so exhausted but happy that we had made a tiny difference in their wee lives for that day. We can’t wait to see them again!
Only two days in and we have seen so much. It makes me so thankful for all the things I have in my life – it’s so true that you can’t buy your health.
Last night we were invited for dinner by Dhava – one of the men who works at the hospice. His wife Selvie made us the most delicious Bunny Chow for dinner 😍 this is an Indian curry in a loaf of bread. It was unreal! I’ll definitely be getting the recipe from Selvie!!
This morning we were woken up by monkeys running across the roof of our bedroom 🐒⏰ no need for alarm clocks here. It was actually pretty cool watching them play in the garden from bed!
I’ll update you after our first full week of volunteering next week.