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.

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