Not a Vacation
Hi everyone! We are about halfway into our time here in South Africa and I have been having so much fun. Learning my way around the city, trying different restaurants almost every day, shopping in Greenmarket Square and the V&A Waterfront, seeing sights like St. George's Cathedral- its been a blast! But today I was reminded why I came to South Africa: to learn and experience something new and meaningful. Yes the touristy stuff has been fun, but it's not why I'm here. Today was our first day of service learning in Delft Township. We are working with Africa Tikkun, an organization in Delft working to strengthen the community. We are basically there to do whatever they need us to do. So, for the first two hours today, we weeded the garden. Since their gardener got sick a few months ago, no one has had the time to work on it. I felt honored to be able to pull out weeds for a few hours if that is what was needed. They do so much good, and I just want to help in anyway that I possibly can. For the rest of the morning today, we walked through Delft to the Delft Community Hospital and Clinic. We were shown around by one of the most amazing and inspiring women I have ever met, and unfortunately I don't even know her full name. I only know her as the sister, but she is one of my heroes. She radiated pure conviction and pride in the work she was doing at the clinic. She was well aware of the problems, but also so hopeful. You could tell instantly that this clinic, helping the people of Delft is her passion, and she was more than willing to share that with us. I can only hope one day to find my own passion like her. Seeing the clinic was a heavy experience. There are over 1 million people in Delft and just the one clinic trying to provide all the necessary care. They are poor, small, and understaffed. The doctors are fresh out of med school and doing the mandatory community service before getting licenses. There were lines of people waiting for treatment everywhere. Despite all this, I didn't leave the clinic feeling sad or depressed. I was in awe of this clinic and the people who work in it. It is in no way perfect, but it is an incredible resource for the people of Delft. Heathcare is paid for by the government in South Africa, so the people at the clinic are able to get treated for little or no cost. They may have to wait for a very long time, but patients at the clinic are seen by people like the sister, who truly care for every single person who walks through those doors. We can focus on the bad and see the lines of people waiting for too few beds and too few doctors, or we can focus on the good and see the clinic as something wonderful. I, for one, see the latter. I am not in South Africa for a vacation. Sure, the shopping and sightseeing is fun (I'm planning to go back to Greenmarket Square tomorrow to finish buying some presents) but this is more than just a vacation. It is deeper than that. It is an amazing chance to learn and grow in ways I could never have dreamed of. I am so thankful to have met people like Anthea and Liz at Afrika Tikkun and the sister at the hospital. Right now, I am just humble.