Thursday, May 21, 2009

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Even though today was almost completely an educational day, it was still the best yet. Again, the weather was perfect. A little warmer, but Im not complaining because it was great. We went to Masiphumelele. It’s a squatter camp. A squatter camp is a very poor settlement.

On the way, we saw the first McDonalds I’ve seen haha. I thought this was definitely worth noting!! In Masiphumelele, we first visited a primary school, which is grades k-7. Ellie, one of the other girls here, and her mother raised $400 that we used to buy balls for the kids. We got to see them do a dance and play with them for a little while. We are going back there tomorrow to teach them a dental lesson.
There were also a couple other places within the squatter camp that we were able to visit. The first place was a wound-dressing clinic that is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 8-12. Here they typically dress wounds for HIV + patients, but they do so for other incidences as well. They check blood pressure, heart rate, etc…all the vitals. And they clean and dress wounds but if a wound is severe enough (too severe for them to care for) they send the patient to the hospital, which is not too far away. We’ll be going there one or two days next week!

After this we walked around a little bit and saw some of the people living in the settlement. They are so friendly and the women carry their babies on their backs. It’s indescribable how cute they all are! We got to see a soup kitchen, which cost 2.5 Rand (probably 30 cents in US dollars) for a cup of soup and vegetables. We also were able to see from the outside a kretch//cretch- I have NO idea how its spelled! But this is basically an orphanage for HIV+ kids, most of who are below the age of 4 or 5. We get to actually go in tomorrow!!

Next we went into another clinic, which was right across the street from the wound-dressing clinic. One of the ladies that works in the clinic sat down and talked to us for a while. There are 14,592 people in the township and there is an increasingly large population in the 20s. Less than 2% of this population is over the age of 60. This place has a cure rate for TB (tuberculosis) of greater than 85% which is so great considering the conditions they are working in. They are also working on building a youth center. If you could see the conditions of this place you would understand how wonderful this was.

Thennn the last place we went was a clinic/hospice called Living Hope. This place was by far the most inspiring place I’ve been yet and I can even begin to describe how much I got out of it. One of the ladies who works there talked to us for a good hour or so. Here in Cape Town the HIV rate there is apparently as high as between 35-40%. If you don’t know, that’s ridiculously high. There is a really negative stigma here towards people with AIDS. They believe that you can get AIDS through touch, using the same toilet, and other absurd methods. The ways they believe they can get rid of aids are even more ridiculous. Anyways, this keeps them from getting tested because it ruins their lives. The clinic/hospice holds 22 patients and is such a wonderful place. They run support groups and have done AMAZING things. When they started, the rate was 15% of people were saved and 85% died. In the 3 years they’ve been here in Cape Town, they have reversed the rate to 85% saved and now only lose 15% of patients. This place also had these massive washer and dryers. So wish I had them!

That was it for the day so then we had a two hour break that we spent relaxing and just hanging out. Dinner was at this place called Marcos. It’s a VERY African style restaurant. They had an African Band playing and the menu was… interesting to say the least. For dinner I had a platter of crocodile tail, chicken, and some kind of beef. It was delicious. I also tried springbok (a kind of deer), kudu (a kind of goat), and ox tail (basically an ox butt?... or close to it haha). Surprisingly it was all pretty good.

After dinner we had a meeting and planned out our dental lessons for tomorrow. We also had to sort through about 300 toothbrushes, 200 toothpaste tubes, and hundreds and hundreds of mardi gras beads. The people here absolutely love the beads. I definitely should have brought some. They are grateful for the smallest things and it really puts things into perspective. On the other hand they are the happiest people I’ve ever met and are so giving and wonderful. You all should come here one day because its amazing how people who have so little can give so much.


  1. It sounds like so much fun, your pictures are beautifuL! do me proud and keep them coming ;)

  2. You Saw A CHEETAH. THAT IS AMAZING!!!! I CAN'T WAIT till your home cristen...i miss you.