By Karina McGinley
It has been a month since my return from my 4 week experience in South Africa and I think now is an appropriate time to reflect back on it now that the dust has settled and life had returned to ‘normal’. I miss the sights (those sunsets were something special), sounds (especially Jacaranda FM and the random outbursts of beautiful singing and African drums) and smells of lovely Rustenberg everyday but I am also more thankful than ever for what I have at home. Light, heat, family, friends, internet, a passport, ID, paid employment, third level education, low levels of corruption (apparently!), access to appropriate social welfare should I require it, access to healthcare and medicine should something happen to me!
As I scrolled through my Facebook timeline last weekand saw at least 200 ‘Ice Bucket Challenges’ I couldn’t help but think back to my time in South Africa where for some people it is an invaluable commodity that they walk for miles everyday to have access to. I thought of our times in Nkaneng (a large squatter camp along the ‘platinum valley’ in Rustenberg) where we travelled over 2km everyday to get water to use to mix cement. I also thought of one of our ‘Home- based care visits’ when we had to go fetch water for a lady who was too weak to get her own, she (like a lot of people in Freedom Park) had HIV but she had just recently started taking her Anti Retro Viral medication (ARTs) and they made her very ill. She was an emigrant, alone, vulnerable and very ill. It is something that will stay in my mind for a long time.
However, on a brighter note. What can I say the wonders of online communication, each day since I have returned I have received Facebook or Whatsapp messages from people I lived with, worked alongside or met during my time in South Africa. The most heartwarming message I get everyday is from a lady attending adult education classes in Freedom Park. I first met her the day of her Level 1 graduation, I then returned to the class twice before I left. She was really worried about her maths (so much so that in the clinic she was diagnosed with hypertension because of it) now I get daily reports on how class went and how her fractions and long division is going!
That’s it from me for today!