South Africa – Day 5

You know when you are watching TV and you get this idea of what Africa is like. Houses made out of garbage, dirt roads, people walking/sitting around everywhere. Today was a day like that. It blew my mind. I went with a nurse named Tulee to do some home based care visits today, and everything was just too much to take in. I was able to find the area on google maps. If you click here it should take you to a bird’s eye view of the area that we were doing home based care in. Looking from the top doesn’t really do justice, but it gives you a small idea. the R538 is the road that we drive through to get to all the homes that we visit and then usually walk through the dirt roads, they are barely car worthy.

We first drove through foot paths with two foot deep pot holes randomly throughout to pick up a women and her extremely young granddaughter to bring them back to the clinic. They locked their door made out of thrown together tin/wood and worked our way back up to the road through the broken glass (she was in bare feet). We dropped her off and then let the other groups take the one vehicle they had to do their stops while we walked around the Jerusalem area. It felt surreal. Chickens, goats, cows walking around. Houses with slabs of tin thrown on for roofs with cinder blocks and rocks to hold them down. The only car on the road was a vehicle from another aid group.

We walked into the first home, and they had couches, so we sat with her and the other 3 ladies I was with chatted in Swati to the patient. I prayed for her and we left to go to the next. The next patient is where my heart broke. It was a girl probably around thirteen, who could knit to put any white elderly to shame and she had TB. The place we walked into felt like my unfinished, moldy, chipping away basement but the cement on the floor was cracked in half, we sat on broken wooden benches and the floor and it would be maybe the size of one room in my . The mother had epilepsy and the aunt had TB also. We were trying to help her get medicine for free from a free clinic, but lots of complications were arising out of that.

There was another lady I went to do visits with. Her name was Gogo Anna (Gogo is grandma). In one human the entire view of the elderly in the West completely crumbled before my eyes. I saw this elderly lady yelling hello to groups of people, leading us in song, chatting it up with children and adults and basically become a caregiver to everyone she ran into. Her entire life and everything she did was wrapped up into helping the people around her and it seemed like she was a legend in the area. Everyone we ran into she knew and was talking to. It was beautiful. Typically we throw our elderly into a home because they are nothing more than a drain on us and a drain on society. In Africa, it seems like what is going well is because of the blood and sweat of the elderly women.

It just amazed me to see so many children and elderly play a crucial role in the making of a household. I watched/helped a young girl push 30 gallons of water up a hill to her home. Twelve year old girls where I’m from are too busy trying to be like Paris Hilton to worry about the wellbeing of their family. Grandmothers are just as much motherly figures as mothers are, but where I’m from they are seen as a nuisance and their parenting styles get in the way.

There is just something different here in the air. It’s not that I feel sorry for them or think man I can’t believe that they have to live like this, because honestly, I don’t think they feel like that. Not just because they don’t know any better but because it’s not what wakes them up in the morning. Their values are different (not necessarily better) and there is just so much about them that makes me rethink my entire way of living. Everything about it. To how I travel, treat people, value people, eat, purchase, learn. Our way isn’t the only way, and it certainly isn’t the right way. So it’s a breath of fresh air to see something so different.

Today was a shaker, that is for sure. From what we have heard, Swaziland is supposed to be out of this world compared to this. So we look forward to Sunday for that. I wasn’t able to take any pictures today, so unfortunately, I’ve got none, so I hope my words have done some justice. Tomorrow and Saturday we spend at Kruger National Park so I hope to get some amazing pictures there including some cat of a sort attack and kill some weaker animal, cause that would be amazing.

3 Comments

  • Nathan, I’ve followed your blog for some time, actually since the Isn’t She Beautiful Conference. I was there, and then later found your blog looking for other people who were blogging about it.

    It turns out in June I was in the area of South Africa for a week, a village called Cork, if you continue North on 538, then take a right at the KFC, it’s about 30 minutes from there.

    This village is a lot like the place where you were today. Your day 5, was my Day 7. http://podraza.org/archives/249

    I pray that you have a great trip for the rest of the time, and you make it back home well, and are changed for a lifetime. I know I am.

  • HI Nathan and Rachel!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We miss you guys…yesterday the girls were pretending they were going to some made up land and they happened to be flying over Africa so they dropped in to visit you. Hope everything is going well.

  • So good to read about your trip. I only drove through SA on my way to Swaziland, but I can hear SiSwati in my ears sitting here…

    Peace to you. Love well. Let them love you back. They’re brilliant at it.

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