Hello all – it’s been quite the week in SA. It’s starting to get cold at night and our flat sees little or no sunshine to keep it warm. But we’ve got blankets, good socks, and each other. Central heating is obsolete – yet there are plenty of plug in heaters in the stores. We’ll see how far we can go w/o one.
My (Amy’s) job is going well – I’ve been a busy bug. My door-to-door campaign in Extension 11 (an informal township outside of Potchefstroom) is in full swing. My team is completing a survey asking what the needs of the area are. So far, one third of the children found are orphans, quite a few are HIV+ and many of those are not receiving treatment. It’s really difficult having to find answers to questions like how do I pay the fare to get to the clinic to get my child treatment, when I barely have enough to buy food? There are a lot of hard questions and not many answers. After the process of completing the community profile the project will proceed to provide services to Orphans and Vulnerable Children (OVCs). I’m not sure where we’ll start, it seems that the more questions we ask, the more tangled the web of poverty becomes.
A quick story: One of my co-workers is HIV+, and living positively as she says, her baby was born HIV+. Terrifyingly, 17 days after the baby died at the age of 18 months, she received notification that her baby could start taking ARVs. The medication is supposed to be available freely to those who need it in South Africa, provided by the government, but the system is fouled up. Adults start taking ARVs once there CD4 counts are under 200; children can’t wait until their CD4 count dips below 200, their immune systems aren’t strong enough.
My (Glenn’s) job is going pretty slow thus far. I’ve been meeting w/ the NGO’s that are in relationship to the Local Aids Council – I’ve been asked to compile a quick report for a meeting with our local government council to report on the needs/challenges of the NGO’s. The list for each one coincides w/ each other in this way – they (NGO’s) are in need of proper governance, business planning, developing proper proposals, creating down to earth/manageable business plans, and overall, funding. One of the main issues that I hear from the Home Based Care providers is that they do not have the resources to assist the patients to get to the clinic for their medications. It is the same story as what Amy described above. Many of these volunteers use their own limited stipend money to assist the patients. So, we have a lot of good hearted individuals who care deeply for their community members – however, they lack the sustaining resources that will enable their organizations to provide long term care to the community members.
Our lives are very comfortable for Peace Corps volunteers. Our lives are really simple. We bike everywhere, we go to bed early and wake up early. We wash our clothes by hand (but yesterday we broke down and took two weeks worth of wash to the Laundromat—it only cost about $3.50, but that’s a lot of money to us right now! It’s so funny.) No dishwasher and a goofy oven/stove. We buy our milk around the corner, we take our bottle over and they fill it up. We’ve got some Christopher Elbow hot chocolate we’re saving for colder nights. We haven’t got a TV so we really don’t know what’s happening out there. We’re loving the library, they haven’t added many new books since 1994, but they do have Time Magazine. We eat lots of sausage and granola is the cheap cereal here (cheaper than corn flakes). Tonight we’re getting together with an American missionary family we met; they’re a cool bunch. This was written on 05/16/09.