July 13, 2011
“I’ve spent the last couple of days with Lutheran Development Service (the development arm of ELCSA), specifically with Ashmeer Joseph, visiting a number of projects/communities that will be receiving some of the goods we are shipping. I’ve been traveling approximately 1500 kms into remote communities and getting a bit of exposure to a number of provinces in South Africa.
“The main work being done in these projects through LDS is market gardening and home-based care to those impacted by HIV/AIDS. Volunteers are selected from the village to work to support the community in HIV/AIDS education and awareness, care for the critically ill, and provide food packages and care to orphans and vulnerable children. The unemployment rate in many of these villages is in the range of 85%. The volunteers go door-to-door to conduct their work in the community. They have received training, and work closely with the nearest medical clinic where nurses manage more urgent medical needs. When a patient requires care beyond what the home-based care volunteer can provide, the volunteer coordinates with the nurse at the medical clinic to transfer the patient to a hospital, etc. Volunteers are given a home-based care kit which LDS purchases to support the care required for HIV/AIDS patients. It includes items such as rubber gloves, bed pads, diapers, antiseptic cream, disinfectant, etc. Due to the huge need and number of patients requiring care in these villages (most without electricity) resources are at times insufficient to support the needs. Some of the medical supplies and hygiene kits provided by CLWR will be much appreciated.
“These projects also engage in market gardens as mentioned. Here members of a community are given entrepreneurial training to support increased success in their production, management and sales of produce grown such as maize, cabbage, spinach and potatoes. Some groups also get involved in brick-making, wire fencing, poultry raising, handcrafts and sewing. The resources and profits of these initiatives support the basic needs of members of the group, allow them to open bank accounts and learn to save and plan for future costs, and help them support the orphans and vulnerable children within the villages by providing food packages and uniforms (which they sew for the children) for school.
“Many of these orphans live in child-headed households. In one of the projects that covers an area of 19 villages and about 8000 people, there are 200 orphans. Fourteen volunteers are involved in this project. Another project, which engages 20 volunteers, serves 215 households and approximately 4800 community members.
“It’s remarkable to sit with these volunteers and hear the stories of the support they are providing for their communities, and how they are looking for ways to generate revenue to increase the resources and care they can provide. When asked about what they personally have gained through their involvement in this work, they point to the ability to pay for their own children’s uniforms and medical costs for their families. Many of them have also lost loved ones to HIV/AIDS.
“The SCC concert with the Drakensberg Boys Choir is today and it should be wonderful. The scenery here in Drakensberg near the Drakensberg mountains is quite spectacular. Africa is beautiful…even in winter (and yes, it is cold…down to -2C!).” – Irma