Tuesday, June 30, 2009

An impromptu invite...

During the first weekend Sarah Lang (from Saints) was visiting, she saw just about everything major. We had just returned from a trip to the Midlands with my patient, Slindokuhle, and we had to drop the care-worker, Lungi off at her home in Inchanga. It was a Saturday afternoon. Lungi asked us if we'd like to come and have a look at her house. I said yes and followed her around on a tour. As we were about to get in the car, we saw men with walking sticks dancing and heard quite a bit of chanting and singing. We asked what was going on. Lungi and her family told us it was a traditional Zulu ceremony at which they would kill a cow in celebration. She asked if we wanted to go see the ceremony. Of course, we said YES. As we entered the yard, all eyes were on us. Most of the men were still dancing and singing and the women were preparing the meal. Many people (and many drunk men) came over to us to ask for a picture and a marriage proposal or two (or ten). It was awesome to see the festivities first hand and get to be a visitor just for a bit.

Chocolate Heaven!

I was told by Slindo (our blind patient) that she loved chocolate. I was trying to think of somewhere fun to take her that she could enjoy without having to see everything. I decided on the chocolate fondue place that I had gone before, Chocolate Heaven in the Midlands. A group of us went during the week that Sarah was visiting from CA. She absolutely loved it and so did we. Here are some photos of our day which basically consisted of eating our way through the Midlands...

More Game Reserve Pictures...

Ooopss. I thought I already posted these. This was an incredible day at Hluhluwe Game Park!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Safari girls!

What a day!!!! Sarah, Katie and I went to Hluhluwe/Imfolozi Game Reserve during Sarah's visit. It was absolutely phenomenal. The reserve is home to Africa's BIG 5: rhinos, lions, leopards, buffalo, and elephants! We saw 4 of the 5 (no leopard!). There are also tons of other animals including warthogs, zebra, giraffes, wildebeasts, impala, springbok, etc, etc, etc!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Auntie Jenn brings her cokie pens (markers)!

These are some of the photos with my cottage 3ers on the day I brought my cokie pens for the first time. I don't know what it is about my markers because they honestly have become famous first in New Hampshire, then Vermont and now South Africa. Yeah for Crayola!

Please note that the little boy, Spider, in the last photo is holding up his picture of a beach scene. Anyone who knows me knows I am not an artist, however, I do draw a mean beach scene. I did so, and he thought it was like the coolest thing he'd ever seen. This was his drawing which was definitely better than my prior attempt. After my year in South Africa one thing is for sure...I will not be an artist :)


It was just another day bringing patients for Chest Xrays at Botha's Hill Clinic a few weeks back. Then, all of a sudden, a woman came towards me staring at me. I did not recognize her and finally she screamed "Jennnnnnnnnnn...hellllllllooooooooo." It took me a couple of seconds to realize that this was one of my ex-patients, Thoko and we gave each other a HUGE hug!!!

She was one of the first patients I had gotten to know and gotten to take care of during my stay here in South Africa. I did not recognize her as she is much healthier looking now that she is on ARV's. It was awesome to see her. I (obviously) started crying and just kept hugging her!!!!!!

Since that day, I've seen her 3 seperate times out and about. Each time it's special because I think we both realize how truly sick she was when I met her. Even in the midst of struggle, death and sadness, there are some beautiful stories that I have been blessed to be a part of. This is one of them!

Our friends in Lower Molweni...

These are some of Lucky's family members in Lower Molweni. They are so much fun :)

My favorite...




Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dumiso visits Slindokuhle...

The patient I've spoken about quite a bit, Slindokuhle, is quite an amazing young woman. She is recently blind and is now challenged with adapting to a whole new world. She is 18 years old and has a 2.5 year old and a 7 month old baby. One day she asked me if I could go fetch Dumiso so she can see him. I went to pick him up from his Grannie and brought him to the Respite Unit. He looks exactly like her and is very sweet. She had a wonderful time just holding him and listening to his giggling. It was a beautiful, yet heart-wrenching day for me. I realized how hard it will be for her to not be able to be alone with her babies because she cannot see. She has a very positive outlook and I know that in time she will be fine. Enjoy these adorable pictures :)

Family photo op!

Katie and I went to pick up Andile at his Aunt's house a few weeks ago. Lucky had just gotten out of work and Andile was being taken care of by the family. We decided to take a family picture which turned out pretty cute :)

This little girl holding Andile in the second picture started crying when we left because she didn't want Andile to leave. She apparently had been changing, feeding and bathing him for a few days and had grown quite fond of her cousin. It was so sad to see her hysterically crying as we drove away. They only like about 20 minutes from each other, but time, money and transportation makes it nearly impossible for them to see each other on a regular basis. I am hoping to get this picture to her soon!

Foster Care Grant Day!

These are some pictures of my friend Nonduduzo's Mom and her eldest son Busani (5 years). I am trying to help her get a Foster Care Grant for Busani as his Mom (and my friend) Nonduduzo passed away. The process is absolutely grueling and we've already tried just to meet with a social worker 3 different days. Luckily, each time I get to play with Busani and he LOVES the camera! He's adorable!!! Hopefully, the lady we met with last week will be able to help us. She said that the grant won't be available for at least another 6-9 months. Ughhhh.

We recently took a retreat weekend with Pat from the Augustinian Volunteer office on the South Coast! It was nice to just relax and reflect on our year up until now. The retreat house was sketchy to say the least, but the views were amazing. I watched a bunch of whales during our time there. A change of scenery is always nice!

Baby Anelisa!

This is Baby Anelisa. She and her Mother, Thobeka, came to the Respite Unit and were both very sick. It is unknown whether or not her mother ever took the pre-natal ARV's, but what was known is that Anelisa is HIV+. She was very thin and not developed (otherwise known as Failure to Thrive syndrome). Her mother suffered for a few days and then passed away at the unit. The baby's GoGo (pictured below) is the only remaining family member. We spoke with the Granny who admitted that she could not take care of Baby Anelisa because of her age and the baby's condition.

The next step, was to contact a Children's Home (an orphange) for the baby to go to after she was feeling a bit better and on ARV's. Unfortunately, Anelisa's condition began to deteriorate and we decided to admit her to a local hospital. We all miss having her around the Respite Unit. I do not know how Anelisa is doing but I am trying to find out. When I do, I'll pass on the news...


Last week at St. Theresa's, we played Twister. The boys loved every second of the game. What a blast?!

Slindo goes to the Pavillion...

This is the worst picture ever taken. It was taken outside in the mall parking lot by an Indian woman. After she agreed to take the photo, I handed her the camera, she pointed it at her own face and was about to shoot. Also, my hair was out of control and no one was ready. Thank you for listening...

Slindokuhle, our blind 18 year old patient, is still with us at the Respite Unit. She has been there the longest of all our current patients. She is on ARV's and in all reality, should be going home, however, she has no one at home to take care of her and help her to get around. She is recently blind due to Meningitis and has never experienced living at her home, blind. The South African government does give out Disability Grants, which she'll be entitled to for her whole life, however, the process takes FOREVER and you must have an ID before you apply. She does not have a record of her existence so it is going to take even longer. We are hoping to begin this process soon.

She is very bored and very lonely. She went from being a young, active girl to a girl confined and completely dependent on others. I have been trying to get her out and about as much as possible. I asked her what she'd like to do and she said she wanted to go to the mall for the day. We took her and just simply walked around the mall, had lunch at KFC and ate some chocolate. She loved just getting out and feeling like her old self again. Before we went, she told me she hadn't slept for the whole night because she was so excited to go!!!