/ 3. August 2006 08:13
Wow. Where do I begin to talk about the many frustrations that I have felt since arriving in South Africa?
Hospitals in South Africa can be one of the most frustrating experiences. There are cues everywhere and no one seems to be moving. On one occasion I accompanied one of my roommates to the hospital because it was over an hour away and she had never been there before. The day started at 5:30 am. We were told that the patient had an appointment to get her results back from blood tests and x-rays at 9:00 am. We arrived at the hospital a little after 7 am and waited in a cue to get her medical file. After that we were told that her appointment was in room 5. After looking for that room, we were told that room 5 no longer existed and we needed to get in cue. After waiting for an hour the patient walked to another room and then was told that she already had all the tests completed and we just needed to wait for the doctor to arrive to read the results and then we could be on our way. Logically our next question was when are the doctors supposed to arrive. She replied 11 am. It was 9 am. At 11:20 am the doctors began to call names. At this point, the patient was getting tired. The doctor informed us that they had lost all the tests and they needed to be redone. After a frustrated laugh, we took the patient where she needed to go. Forty minutes later, we were completed and waiting to see the doctor again so that he could read the result. After waiting another hour we asked the nurse how long results took to get back. She informed us two to three hours. At this point, I left the hospital in search of food for the three of us. I returned and found out that the doctors had all gone to lunch. This was at 1:30 pm. I couldn’t believe it they had only been working for two and half hours. At 3:00 pm, we were finally seen and the results were read. An Appointment that was supposed to take about 3 or 4 hours with travel ended up taking 11 hours with travel time.
This is just one example of the daily frustration that we and all the people here in South Africa face each day. Here is a list of other frustrations:
- 5 donated computers on Monday. 4 stolen by Wednesday.
- Watching people wait hours to catch a Kombi to take a ride that should take 15 minutes, but rather they have to transfer in Pinetown so it takes an hour or more
- Someone trying to break into the house only a month after we got here
- Seeing children go hungry
- Children not being able to afford tuition for school. Its 75 rand for the year. Only 10 US dollars
- Seeing a disease ravage someone’s body
- Seeing a child get hit by a parent
- Listening to children say that they will not go to the local High School because it is that big of a joke and they know that they will not learn anything, but also knowing that other high schools cost 10,000 rand to go to
- Having a roommate try desperately to get one of the students into a good high school, but because of his age being denied left and right.
- The list could go on for a while
The funny thing though is that all those frustrations go right out the window with the smallest of things. Listening to the children of St. Leo’s singing in the morning, reading a book with one of the children of St. Theresa’s, or just putting a smile on a person face that is dying from AIDS. Yesterday we had a farewell at St. Leo’s and even though some the children would not eat that day, they still sang and danced and continued to make us feel welcome. From the first day to the last, the people of Molweni and Kloof have made us feel a part of their community and that acceptance and welcoming has made it much easier to deal with the frustraions of everyday life in South Africa, and instead of giving up, continuing to learn from and help where we can.
South Africa 2005-2006