Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Egoli Education Photographs

Children learning sanitation and hand washing

Community members gathering for our education program

Community Members

Children of the settlement

Final Plans

We made a list of our final plans for the next week or so and here it is and it is time to start checking them off:
1. Mama Africa- Traditional South African cuisine
2. Go out on Long Street
3. Brunch on the waterfront
4. Garden Route trip to see Ostrich and ride them, more animals, caves and canoe trips
5. sky dive
6. Group dinner out
7. Hermaenus to see whales
8. Savoy Cabbage or Fresh Fish
9. Climb Table Mountain, rain or shine
10. Shark Cage Diving
11. Wine Tour
12. Old Biscuit Mill
13. Robben's Island Tour
14. go out as much as possible
15. Final Brunch

This list is mostly in order starting tonight with a pot luck which went quite well and now I am attempting to finish ALL of my work so that I can enjoy every last night I have with friends and not cooped up writing papers!

Hope I can write soon and if not, just wait for all the pictures I will be bringing home with me!

Egoli Settlements Day 2

These last few days have been hectic.  With less than 2 weeks left in South Africa I have very, very little time to blog and record my adventures besides the long journal entries that I keep and give to my professor--I am even behind on those but will try to post some.

Egoli has turned out to be a very rewarding experience, so much more than I ever thought it would be.  The people are very receptive to hearing what we have to say and are extremely welcoming.  While they live in shacks, see photos below for better detail, they are still happy and willing to work with us which is a great feeling.

Yesterday we spoke with a group of adults on issues such as healthy lifestyles and chronic illness.  The language barrier was definitely there but with the english they knew we were able to emphasize to them that they should take care of themselves for their children, friends and family.

Today when we returned we were greeted by so many children.  I swear the kids here are amazing and I never thought I would love working with kids so much.  The worst thing is when we get out of our minibus and find the children playing in the dirty still water mud puddles, dropping food and toys into them and them continually putting them in their mouths along with their lack of shoes.  I wish I could take them all to a shower and clean them up sometimes.

When it was time for our presentation none of the adults were present.  We spoke with one of the women who work in the community center and she showed us the line of people towards the outside of the settlement where people were getting soup.  She explained to us that the majority of individuals and families have no income and therefore get their meals from donations such as this couple that brings soup every second wednesday of the month. Other donations are made on weekly bases but I was still shocked.  The children came with their coffee mugs or tupperware containers and they were in a huge line behind a truck waiting to be served both soup and 4-5 slices of thin white bread.

What hit me the most was that this may be the biggest meal they see for a few days until the next donation comes.  A young boy, maybe 2-3 years old, had gotten his soup and tripped so that it spilled over the dirt road and he burst into tears.  All I could think of was that he was probably crying because he thought that he would have to go hungry.  Luckily one of the girls on our trip carried him back for more soup and they willinging gave him another portion.

This was the first time I realized how many people go hungry and how much I take for granted the food that I have available to me.  Sitting down to our potluck tonight I almost felt guilty having salad, enchiladas and spaghetti with meatballs while these children are trying to find their next meal and their parents are often going without any meals so that the children and the sick can have something to eat.

We had so many leftovers we decided as a group to bring the noodles and the rest of our dinners to Egoli tomorrow to add to the soup they will be making for the community.  I'm sure it won't go very far but it will provide enough for some of them.

Next week we are bringing clothing, medicine and sanitary products that we are not planning to bring home with us from our trip.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Better Than It Looks: Bran Muffin

Microwavable bran muffin? I think so.  The kitchen is always filled with all 10 of us and after battling some serious stomach issues all day I was ready for some muffin/ cake type dessert but had no room to bake anything.

The solution? Microwave and a mug.  I mixed in some bran, wheat flour, egg, mashed nanner, raisins, vanilla and honey. Yum.

I need to find a way to make it more moist but I may have overcooked it a bit.  Time for some experimenting!

Weekend Recap

This past weekend was packed full of so many different activities I actually have no idea where to start.  When we left the hospital for the day on Friday we were taken back to our house where we made our way to the gym, if I remember correctly.  The gym membership was definitely worth it and I’m glad I went ahead and bought it for these last few weeks so its both motivation to get back in shape and get my moneys worth.  Perfect combination.

After the gym we took a taxi into the city where we ate at Beluga Restaurant.  My second sushi experience (real sushi not the cooked/ fake meat stuff) was beyond a success.  This restaurant is HIGHLY recommended and rated on so many websites I am glad we found time to check it out.  Between 5 and 7 every Monday-Friday there are half price sushi platters, rolls, dim sum and drinks.  Needless to say , we went to town. Literally.  Jessica and I split the following feast of fresh and amazing sushi/ Dim Sum and Drinks:
            Beef Coriander and Ginger Pot Sticker
            Duck and sweet BBQ sauce steamed buns
            Firecracker Roll
  Green Plate: Tuna and Salmon Sashimi, seared tuna, rainbow roll, salmon roses,   tuna and avocado samurai roll

Plus something cool to wash it all down:
Blood orange coconut mojito
Lime Bubbles (something with tequila)
Tolberone Dessert Martini

To be honest I felt a bit guilty ordering so much but with splitting all of that the bill was around $20 a person—from what everyone else in the group said, it was pretty cheap and really good sushi besides that.  After dinner we walked to a latin restaurant where we relaxed and got shots on fire—they were spicy but tasty.

Saturday morning I woke up bright and early to hit the gym and make our way to the Museum and Old Biscuit Mill.  The museum, District 6, was interesting but it was a very basic museum telling the story of one man’s life in District 6.  It kind of reminded me of something that my Poppi would do with his war stories and pictures from his life.  The guy was really nice and interesting, he even tried to sell us his book—he almost got me but I decided to wait instead.

After the museum we had our very first minibus adventure—with an IES guide.  How ironic since the IES guidebook says that we were to NEVER take a minibus.  It was actually quite funny how many people they shove into these busses but really not that much cheaper than if we were taking a taxi (maybe about 3 ZAR cheaper which barely amounts to anything in US dollars). 

My normal anxiety of food hit me when we got to the Old Biscuit Mill because of the insane number of options that I was presented with.  I decided to make my way to the main food vendor section and assess all the options—tasty waffles, seared tuna sandwich, Italian flatbread pizza, chicken curry, egg sandwiches.  Nope, Ostrich Burger on a brown roll with guac, fried egg, cucumber, sautéed onions, rocket and tomato. YUM!  This burger was (a) ginormous and (b) tasty and delicious.  The shop, Burger Boys, is only open on Saturdays at the market and they do one serious job cooking these bad boys.  Next time I might be adventurous enough to try the Kudu Burger.

After the Biscuit Mill we went to a Rugby game where I donated a fleece to get a Stormer’s Flag.  Why not.  After that we were off to our homestays where I spent the night with Anna, Emily and Mama Noks Family.

Mama Noks is in charge of the homestay program in Gugulethu and gets other Mama’s from church to take in adventurous students such as ourselves.  We spent the night learning a bit about her life, her business, her jewelry business and shared a meal with her and her family.  Pap, Minced meat with potato and onion and veggies (all with our hands).  After dinner we gathered by the TV with some hot tea, the small space heater to heat the living room and some show called Bushmen—kind of reminds me of Swamp People.

Mama Noks has such a interesting life and spending the night with her made me realize that you can be happy with having a lot or a little it is just what you make of it.  She seemed to have a happy life with her son and her boyfriend who she loves very much and she put such an emphasis on God that it really made me think, again, about the power of religion though I am still personally wavering on whether or not I am cut out to believe in something like religion and god.

We spent the night huddled in a queen size bed (all three of us girls) and were woken up in the morning by Mama Noks for some porridge and a trip to church.  The church was a short walk from Mama Noks and seemed to be a relatively new building.  The first thing everyone did when we arrived was tell us to get tea and coffee because it was so cold outside—remember that there is no central heating!  We sat down and froze waiting for the service to begin.  When I would think of a black Christian church I always picture lots of singing and dancing and praise jesus.  Well, it was pretty close to that.  They put the lyrics up on a projector screen and there was one guy with a guitar that led the singing.  It was so overwhelming but in the best possible way.  Church lasted about two hours and then we made our way to Mzoli’s.

Mzoli’s Meats is a famous butchery in Gugulethu that is known for its Braai (BBQ) and afternoon party atmosphere.  When we first got there we ran into a group of students from John Hopkins which I thought was soooooo ironic.  They’re also studying public health.  Mzoli’s doesn’t sell alcohol so you have to go across the street to this walk up bar Chebine place where you pick out your 6 packs and they throw them over ice.  A few hunters and savannah’s later and I was ready for my food.  We inhaled our pork, sausage, chicken and steak and made our way to dance.  By 3pm I was done but it was so worth it.

I tried to rally last night and make it out but I was ridiculously tired despite having slept almost 12 hours for the first time since we got to South Africa.  I’m guessing it was a good thing that I didn’t push too hard because by the time 9pm came around I was sick with some awful stomach bug and ready for bed.

So now were finally up to date.  I am home sick in bed today with some nasty stomach bug that I didn’t want to deal with all day nor did I want to give it to any of the hospice patients. I’m not sure if it was something that I ate yesterday or an actual bug but I figured I would rather be safe than sorry.

It is so hard to believe that I am going home in 2 weeks.  Less than two weeks as of today.  The time here has gone by so fast and I feel like there is still so much that I want to do before I hop the plane back to the U.S.  I have a list of things I want to do and see in the next two weeks including the Garden Route, Shark Cage Diving, Sky Diving and lots of restaurants but I am also starting to get a little homesick and am tired of the rainy and dreary weather. It is possible that I may be rerouting my plane to a 10h layover in London with a few of the girls on the trip but I am not sure yet if that is happening.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Retreat & Egoli Informal Settlement

The waiting lines at Retreat CHC.  Many patients get to the hospital at 6am and are not even through registration and triage until noon.  Today I spent the morning and beginning of the afternoon in Triage--patients continually complained of the long wait times and the nurses agreed that it is ridiculously long though no one has any idea how to cut the wait times.  The sister we worked with told us that there are people waiting before the clinic opens when she arrives there and then sometimes the same individuals are still there when she leaves in the evening because they are not "urgent" patients.  She said how it kills her to see these patients get turned away and then have to return the next day.

This line barely goes down throughout the day until around 4 o'clock when the last few patents are able to go through to the doctor for the day.  It is such a long day many people choose to bring their lunches to the hospital while they wait in line to see the doctor.

After class we were taken by our teacher to an informal settlement about 5k away from the Retreat CHC.  Egoli.  This settlement seemed so much different from the informal housing we visited in the first week in Gugulethu.  I thought that I would have been more affected by it the first trip through back a few weeks ago but for some reason today I had the most difficult time passing by the people in their scrap houses.

people cook on small fires in tins to heat porridge, pap and water.

There may be one water faucet for 300 of these houses.  5 families will share the same port-o-pottie.

We walked through and spoke with the leader of the community center.  I believe that we are setting something up next week where we will be going to the community center, which was previously built by IES and the help of some of those in the settlement--a glorified scrap house if you will.  We will hopefully be teaching some of the community members basic health practices such as washing hands, covering coughs and staying away from others when you're sick.  This will be replacing our final research paper--the group decided it would be a better use of our time if we went out and tried to make a difference instead of researching a disease that we could do at our home universities.

No one really knows where to start--when we asked some of the community members what they would like to learn about they responded with us providing them with bread and soup--this was definitely one of my first times around people who were struggling to get the basic necessities needed to survive--food, water and shelter.  It truly made me appreciate all that I have back home and helped me to realize that there are so many people that are barely getting by.  When the community leader told me that the soup and bread they receive goes to the children and sick first I realized that they are actually having to ration their food to those that truly need it.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Early Morning Success

Its 8 am and I already feel like I have accomplished so much.  A group of us were up at 6am and were done with a pretty decent workout by 7ish!  I am really happy that I decided to join the gym with the girls--bonding, exercise and even some new workouts from the girls that were/on college sports teams.

I ran for 20 minutes, did some yoga and then some stretches and legs.  Came home and whipped up the best breakfast I have had thus far on the trip--oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, 1 egg white, a little honey, banana, and jelly. YUM!

Today we are set to go back to the clinic until 1 and then we are off to the markets for the last time most likely.  It really stinks that we have to plan our "market" days so far in advance because we are so jam packed with activities but I'm still excited and really hope that the guy I met the last time will have finished/ even made the painting I requested from the last time.  I have a huge dilemma of what to bring back for friends and family so if you have any suggestions let me know :)

Hope everyone has a great day!

Retreat Day 1: Hypertension Clinic

The short version:
I'll post the long one later.

Today was our first day at Retreat Community Health Clinic.  I spent the morning working with Sister Van Reenan, aka Sylvia, who showed me the ropes of the "club" which is what they call the room for all of the chronic disease patients.  Mondays are always hypertension days so I helped with the weighing of patients, taking brief histories and stamping their charts prior to sending them in to see the doctor.  I really felt like I accomplished something today since I was doing more than merely observing and taking notes on what the doctors were doing.  It was one of the first times that I felt like I was putting my public health education into practice..even though it was a really small deed the line was extremely long and Sylvia seemed really grateful.  When we went to tea/ lunch with the other sisters I realized that they have to bring their own tea, cups, sugar etc. She gave me her cup and made coffee for me--tomorrow I'm going to pay her back by bringing my own cup and bringing a few vanilla chai tea bags!

This afternoon we were dropped off at the grocery store since we were basically out of everything except for rice and pasta.  We made our mark at pick and pay and Woolies--I finally got myself a reusable grocery bag...did I ever mention that you have to pay for ANY plastic bag that you get at the grocery stores? sounds like a pretty good way to cut back on all that waste (cough cough wegmans!)

We went home with all our goodies and decided that we would check out the gym that is right down from our house and ended up picking up memberships for the month and worked out for about an hour which felt beyond amazing.

We finally had a huge family dinner with everyone around one big round table and now i'm here at a new cafe (Lyra's) with unlimited wifi and a pretty relaxed atmosphere.  Overall a great day and I am ready to make the most of the last three weeks here!

Weekend Overview (sort of).

This weekend was honestly so amazing and so busy that I wouldn't even know where to begin with writing a blog post about it.  I would probably talk your ear off to the point of exhaustion or passing, I will let you take the time to check out some of my pictures on Facebook and get a general overview from that.

Overall the trip was beyond amazing and I couldn't be happier with all of the touristy stops, safari's and the backpackers hostels that we stayed at.  I never thought I would take to the hostel environment but I am addicted to them, you meet the most interesting people and really get to know a bit more about the culture of the area that you're staying in.

Yesterday was a really long day--we woke up in our huts at 5 am for a quick drive through Kruger park and then made our way to these amazing views of the 3rd largest canyon in the world. Absolutely breathtaking.  I took enough pictures for a lifetime to remember...maybe a few videos as well.

We finally made it home last night after a long wait in the Joburg airport and an interesting talk with a pediatric opthamologist in Cape Town who gave us her business card in case we were ever in trouble and needed help or a friendly family to take us in.  I know it sounds really strange but someone had done this for her daughter when she began studying at Duke..the girl thought it was extremely strange as well until she was in a car accident and broke her leg.  The man who had given her the business card contacted her mothers office and somehow found her while she was backpacking across Vietnam--still really strange sounding?  The woman was so nice and told us that it was her way of paying the man back, through paying it forward to the next group of young women her daughters age that may potentially need help along the way.  I actually think that it is a brilliant idea and wish that more people in the world were so generous and genuinely caring/kind.

When we made it back to our house (our actual new house) we were greeted by a friendly cat that will be staying with us for the three weeks.  Still not the biggest fan of cats but I think this one likes the outside more.  I grabbed the top bunk and finally unpacked (I had been living out of the suitcase for the past three weeks and thought that it was finally time to do it).

The house is huge and pretty nice and in a great location to the local grocery stores, restaurants and the gym where we all just got memberships.  Definitely in need of some exercise after having the best and tastiest cooks alive, Happiness and Cindy.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Rough Day in Peds

Quick Recap:
Let’s start with the interesting fun stuff today since my experience at the hospital may or may not be a bit draining for you to read (see below if you’d like to read about it).  Last night we celebrated the 4th of July with a great American meal including some great hamburgers, fries and carrot slaw (yum!) followed with some smores with digestives instead of graham crackers—again super yum!  Later on we went to a local bar with some of the doctors we met the day before and chatted with them over a few drinks.  Tonight I am going to bed extremely early since we have to be at the hospital by 8 am tomorrow.  We are having another Braai since there are new backpackers at Old Vic’s (I am NOT complaining).  Right now I am just relaxing and writing by the fire next to the bar for the evening.

**Patients in maternity and ward 7 (at least) have to be pushed outside to get to the main hospital where the operating rooms are located.  Often times the elevators are broken which requires the patients to walk to the operating room or be carried up the two flights of stairs in a wheelchair.  They will still bring patients in the rain from one building to another**

Details from the hospital:
If I thought that yesterday was confusing and difficult then I don’t really know where to start for today.  When we first arrived at Rob Ferreria I decided to spend my time in Pediatrics thinking that I would get to play with the children and compare the facility/staff and procedures to those at Victoria Hospital.  Needless to say, I was nowhere near prepared for what I was going to be dealing with.

I’ve already spent so much time reflecting over this experience that I honestly don’t know where to begin.  Maybe the beginning is best.  When we first walked into one of the rooms with 6 small children/ infants I was surprised at the serious lack of happiness—no colored walls, no paintings or toys.  The beds were so old the paint was chipping from them and their little gowns were dirty.  Two of the smaller babies were crying (most likely from their symptoms associated with Gastritis) but none of the doctors or nurses seemed to pay any attention to them.  This continued for a while so I eventually got used to the screaming and wailing.  I later found out that this was more the norm in the peds ward, especially once I met the worst case of the day, Nation.

Nation is a 3 year old boy who has the body and development of about a 1 year old.  He has Kwashiokor (the puffy belly), HIV+, extra pulmonary TB (most likely) and is extremely malnourished.  He looked nothing like the 3 year old that was standing and trying to high-5 me next to him.  The next thing I noticed was that the 5 nurses in the room (with 6 kids again) paid no attention to the fact that Nation had no motor skills to feed himself even though they had placed his oats/porridge in his crib.  This would explain the porridge that was all over his gown and face.  My friend Emily offered to feed him and the nurses seemed so indifferent like it wasn’t a big deal.  When I asked for a cloth to wipe his face they looked at me as if I was crazy.  Excuse me but the poor kid cannot feed himself, you weren’t going to do it and now you wont even give me a towel to clean him?  I was disgusted.

Nation and this other child Miranda who were both potentially MDR TB or Extra Pul. TB were in the same room as other children with HIV—a little side note, HIV patients who are exposed to infectious diseases with already compromised immune systems from the HIV virus are so much more likely to contract this other disease.

We walked outside of the room to find other kids running about with their bandages half off throwing boxes at each other like it was no big deal with the nursing staff laughing at them.  I felt like I was in a zoo or some deranged hospital that had no standards, ethics or morals.  I know that sounds harsh but I honestly have no other idea how to describe this.  Today was the first day that I almost cried after leaving the hospital.  The only reason I didn’t cry was probably because I ended up removing myself from the ward early and moving to another section of the hospital.

I eventually found myself calming down after I spoke with my mom briefly and made my way to Ward 7 which seemed like a different world compared to the pediatrics ward.  The doctor that was on was extremely caring and nice to both the patients and us.  Before she showed us a patient with a chest drain for TB she introduced us and asked the patient if she minded us seeing the drain.  The nursing staff seemed very dedicated to the patients in the ward which were severely ill patients.  The patient that had TB in the lungs and had the drain was 26 years old, HIV+ and has TB.

Lena was another patient that I peeked in on who is suffering from Stephen Johnsons disease, a side effect to her ARV treatment. S.J. causes the skin to blister and in a sense burn/ peel off. Her entire body was COVERED in these burns and we saw her as they removed the bandages from her body.  I assume that this disease is quite rare and I would most likely never see this in the states so I took in the medical side of it and tried to leave my emotions to the side.

The last girl that I spent time with today was Ellen, she is 15 years old and is suffering from Cerebral Palsy.  Both of her parents died from HIV and her aunt that had been taking care of her dropped her at a neighboring hospital a few years ago and never came to pick her up.  That hospital was sick of caring for her so they tricked Rob Ferreria into taking her as a patient by saying that she had bedsores.  We helped her play with a doll, I gave her a back massage and we fed her lunch in the hallway.  All of the nurses and doctors seemed to really like Ellen and were very attentive to her needs which made the day a bit more uplifting and made it end better than I thought it would. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy America Day!

Happy America Day to everyone back at home.  We were greeted this morning with our usual oatmeal, eggs, sausages (which are more like hot dogs but AMAZING) and lots of coffee...oh and a "Happy America Day" from Crazy Dave who promised us a great night of celebration and good food!

We were done with the hospital a little early today and to be honest, I was okay with that.  The patients we saw had a wide range of problems and while the doctor was very comfortable discussing with us I was tired and felt like I was seeing the same patients over and over again.  A few cases stood out:

1. A woman with HIV and TB had a stomach full of liquid that they were draining all morning
2. A little baby also had HIV and TB
3. A woman came in for her appointment from one of the rural villages and was a year and 1 day late and had no concept that it was wrong
4. Schizophrenic patient that could not speak and was very withdrawn

The doctor we worked with today has seen both governments in power and has worked in the public sector of medicine for over 20 years--she was VERY set in her ways and knew exactly (her conclusions) why the healthcare system was an utter disaster and is eventually going to implode on itself.

After class we ran over to the grocery store and bought ourselves some smores fixings--pink and white marshmallows, chunky chocolate bars and digestives (they don't have graham crackers here!)

Now its time to relax by the pool, look at the mountain, play with the cats and stare at all the crazy birds and monkeys while trying to get a tan back!

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

American Dinner & Movies

So for those of you who care less about the medical side of my trip here is something more normal that I did today:

We had the best baked oatmeal ever for breakfast.  The chefs at the hostel, Happiness and Cindy, are great cooks.

For lunch we came home and sat outside in the sun and watched some interesting birds (we're near a bird reserve) and a few monkeys with blue balls roam about the trees and then had class.

I realized that lunch in SA isn't really the best meal--today we had a hot dog on a buttered roll with lettuce, cucumber and onion with ketchup with a twinkie, snickers type bar and gummies for dessert...interesting but if you know me at all (which I hope you do since you're reading this), my tummy was not really having it though i've gotten a lot better with digesting those sorts of things!

I ran and did abs with friends.

For dinner we had THE BEST steak with tomato/ onion sauce, peas and carrots, salad, amazing garlic bread and mashed potatoes and of course a hunter's cider to make it all that much more amazing.

Afterwards we went and saw a movie in a theater super similar to Regal...really nice and great seats (no broken ones like at Canandaigua Theaters).  It was so nice to get out and do something besides researching papers or just falling asleep!

Tomorrow we are back at the hospital and then celebrating the 4th just like everyone else back at home!  Enjoy your holiday tomorrow!

HIV/ AIDS in South Africa & Some South African Lingo

Tired does not even begin to describe how I feel right now…luckily I was able to muster up enough energy for some power walking and abs btu I think that I’m in serious need of a boot camp style workout where I have someone yelling and kicking my butt for at least a good hour.  The whole lack of exercise has made me pretty sluggish for the past few days but I know that I am doing far better things with my time than spending hours at the gym.

For instance, today I spent my time speaking with this amazing woman, Angela, who works for an NGO and spends her time as a doctor in 30 different clinics up here in Mpumalanga.  She is extremely passionate about the fight against HIV/AIDS and for the first time I felt like there was actually a huge problem in South Africa.  I had grasped the issues prior to today but never before had I seen someone from South Africa SO extremely upset about the medical system and lack of drugs, doctors and quality care.

I’ll try to keep this short for those of you who have busy lives but would love to talk more about it if you have the time (just ask me).  To keep it short, Angela explained to me that Mpumalanga (the province I am currently in) is typically the slowest at implementing new policies, medications and treatments compared to other provinces and areas such as Gauteng (where Joburg is located) and Western Cape (Cape Town).

 For example, in 2007 Cape Town began giving AZT treatment (HiV treatment) to pregnant women to reducing transmission to the child.  When Angela began work in Mpumalanga in 2009, there was still no AZT treatment—sisters and doctors were still oblivious to the treatment itself.

Also, the government itself is extremely corrupt and lacks the proper management to pay for and order enough ART (ARV) drugs for the number of patients they have. What does this mean? The more modern drugs that cause less severe side effects are running out and they are having to place patients back on the older drug that causes body fat to deplete and cause the “sunken” face that is so commonly associated with late stages of AIDS and death.  Even worse, the government is not always paying the pharmaceutical companies that provide the drugs so that the companies get fed up with the lack of payment and withdraw their supply.

I thought it was a great opportunity to speak with one of the leaders in charge of bringing AZT treatment to South Africa after reading about the drug being used in the U.S.  She also pushed to extend HIV treatment to patients with CD4 counts at 350 instead of the low of 200 which is what the government was using—she makes sure to push this further even when the patient is at a slightly higher level because she would rather treat them than send them home and watch them slowly die. 

What I thought was beyond empowering was her drive, compassion and dedication to the fight against HIV and AIDS.  Back home I always thought of HIV as an awful disease but that everyone and their brother, sister etc knew that it was a problem and there were plenty of people testing vaccinations and treatments but I had NEVER spoken with someone who had such a direct influence on the disease treatment and who truly understood that it is a HUGE problem in South Africa—so much so that South Africa is the #1 country for those living with HIV/AIDS representing over 2.5 million individuals out of the 3.3 million that are affected globally.

Okay, I promised I wouldn’t rant but it just makes me so mad that the government doesn’t understand that this is a huge issue.  Angela explained to me that many of the health officials and government big wigs in Mpumalanga still believe in witchcraft, spirits and the natural healing powers of the Sangoma (herbalist/ medicine man in the village).  Honestly tell me, how are you supposed to get anywhere with advancements in medicine when government doesn’t accept the power of western medicine and HIV treatment? 

Okay, enough rambling for today…I promise.   Want some cool lingo?

Sawubona- Hello (Swati)
Sanebonnane- Hello (Zulu)
Molo- Hello (Xhosa)
Molwane- Hello to many people (Xhosa)
Kunjani- How are you? (Xhosa)

Fun fact? I have learned hello in 3 prominent native languages in South Africa which are all listed above.  Many people are fluent in their native language, Africans and English.
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