Sunday, January 11, 2009

South Africa: The Week Ahead

Robin's Saturday update:

I will be flying out tomorrow for Kimberley and will be there thru Monday. I do not know what type of e-mail access I will have.

I went to market today. Again, I had to be reminded by Mo that I am in San Diego...It was not anything like the market in Lesotho with cardboard boxes and sheets for stores. It was crowded with individuals with financial means and vendors with fancy cheeses, clothes and crafts. The only black South African person I saw was a lovely lady carrying a box. I thought she was selling goods that she had made in the box. Later, when looking for a trash bin, I found out that her box was the way trash was collected. Culture shock again for me.

This afternoon I went to a potjie - this is South African for a pot of stew that is cooked over an open fire. The meat was lamb and the stew contained many different spices and vegetables (carrots, beets, mushrooms, etc). It was delicious. There was also a lovely bread made with cherry tomatoes and a corn meal dish that was tasty as well. The party was held at the house of a friend of Mo's. The woman of the house is a social worker by training and has worked in the city health department in Cape Town. Her husband is a computer wiz and is working on/in charge of the technology stuff for the World Cup stadium in the area. It was very interesting to hear their perspective on the public healthcare system in SA. They have two foster children who delivered children in the government hospitals. The conditions were not good and the nurses were not sympathetic. It is concerning as many nurses have moved from the public health sector to private health care center. The nurses left behind are overworked and their wages are low in comparison to the private sector. The conversation with this family was very helpful to me. In one farm area where a friend of theirs works, there is an estimated 90% HIV infection. This is in the Zulu part of the country. Many good things are happening in terms of access to care in some areas but other areas are trailing significantly. I am hoping my study will add hope and understanding to the situation at hand.

My future itinerary will be something like this...Kimberley on Sunday (dinner with two individuals from NGO's working in the Northern Cape) and Monday (meet with the Bothmas on Monday), go to Prieska on Tuesday to meet and interview nurses there, on to Upington later in the day and have a meeting that evening. We will stay in Upington on Wed and visit the Kalahari dessert and I assume some clinics there. Thursday we will go to Springbok and then to Calvinia. We will arrive back to Kimberley on Friday in time to fly to Cape Town. In CT, we will meet with two physicians who work with the health department (one city and one provincial) then I will go to the airport and fly to home. Wow...what a journey.

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