Happy New Year from an islander volunteering in South Africa

  • Jan. 14, 2008 9:00 a.m.

Submitted by Elizabeth Condrotte-It seems that all I ever write about are vehicles but they are so vital to our work that our meetings always include who is driving what to where, when and why.Last Monday the question was “how?” as we were suddenly down to only one vehicle. The good news is that the only running vehicle was the new ’04 Toyota bakkie you helped us buy. The bad news is that on the previous Friday, one of the local farmers swerved right in front of the Land Rover as Puthlako was driving several patients to the hospital. It turned out that the farmer had a massive heart attack and was dead before he was hit. Luckily, except for bruises, none of our passengers was badly hurt. However, the Land Rover is out of commission for an undetermined amount of time.The other two bakkies and the Kombie all chose that weekend to break down in sympathy. The Kombie wanted a new battery and the Isuzu wanted clutch fluid so they are back on the road but the Mazda has something seriously wrong with the front end. That means we now have no four-wheel drive capability which makes it impossible to reach the sick people who are off the beaten path. Their families must bring them to the road in wheelbarrows. You can see why the vehicle situation is always foremost for us. It’s back to school in South Africa! The new term starts on Jan. 14 for registration and classes begin Jan. 18. Department stores are crammed with school uniforms and parents are wondering how they can afford them. We now have a Saturday gardener who started last week because he is sending three kids to school and the fees alone come to R600 per month. The extra work won’t cover them but it helps.Our own crèches won’t begin classes until Jan. 21 as our three teachers as well as the team and the health workers are taking a four-day course to become facilitators to provide workshops for parents. It’s part of the Family Literacy Project that we are initiating here and which we hope to tie into helping facilitate healthy families. I’ve been working on curriculum and the new space for the crèches and the reception (kindergarten) classroom.I have had a steep learning curve getting familiar with the South African curriculum. Reception is now part of the school system but it was formerly associated with the creche (early childhood education). Reception is now the responsibility of the Department of Education, and ECD belongs to the Department of Social Development. I am very impressed with the curriculum documents but not so much with their management and delivery. It will be a while before the reality catches up with the ideal.Now that everyone is back to normal after the holiday and kids are heading back to school, summer has set in. We are lucky to be as high in the mountains as we are because as hot as we’ve been, it’s hotter lower down. The mealies (that’s corn) are taller every day and some plums are ripe in the village. The community garden is lush and providing fresh vegetables for all the gardeners and their families. Spinach is a favorite but it isn’t spinach, it’s chard. I’m still not used to all the South African terms.Last Thursday, a reporter from Edmonton’s Global TV came out to the village with a cameraman from Capetown to do a feature on Edzimkulu. We postponed orphan feeding from Monday to Thursday so that they would have something interesting to film and the HIV/AIDS Support group sang one of their songs for the camera.This group has performed at various public events and their message is to erase the stigma so that people will get tested and treated. The choir’s leader was so keen on doing this that Fiona and I went to get her out of the St Apollinarus hospital on Wednesday so she could lead the choir on Thursday. The program is supposed to be shown Canada-wide sometime near the end of January, beginning of February, so keep an eye on the guide. I tried to stay out of the camera’s eye but I didn’t escape the sun so now I’m recovering from my sunburn. Now I’m missing the rain. Thanks again for all who helped with our new vehicle and I wish everyone the best in 2008.

Just Posted

New Seven Sisters replacement confirmed

Mental health facility will have 25 beds, up from 20 in current facility

Terrace hospital’s business plan approved

Health Minister’s announcement opens door to construction phase

Convicted animal abuser to return to B.C. court May 21

Catherine Jessica Adams is facing a breach of probation charge

Concerns over democracy as Senate committee votes to nix oil tanker ban

Critics of the Senate’s recommendation to kill Bill C-48 say it goes against popular will

Northwest Fire Centre open burn ban lifted

Recent rain, cooler temperatures have lowered the region’s fire risk

Rescuers finally persuade Eiffel Tower climber to come down

The official said the man was ‘under control and out of danger’ on Monday night

B.C. sends 267 firefighters to help battle Alberta wildfires

Out of control fires have forced evacuations in the province

LETTER: Fletcher ‘blurs reality’ on B.C. union public construction

Bridge, highway projects awarded to companies, not unions

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Federal government funds millions to help B.C. police spot drugged driving

Many police departments have expressed wariness about using the only government-approved roadside test

Judge: Mississippi 6-week abortion ban ‘smacks of defiance’

The new law would prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected

Oil companies, 24-cent gap between B.C., Alberta to be focus of gas price probe

Premier John Horgan called the spike in gas prices ‘alarming’

Motorcycle deaths spike 50% since 2017

Riders were most likely fatally crash on the weekends compared with the rest of the week

Mother of accused charged in death of Surrey teen girl found in torched SUV

Manjit Kaur Deo charged with ‘accessory after the fact’ in 2017 death of Surrey teen

Most Read