After a nice relaxing weekend, I was feeling rejuvenated. Ready to get back to my internship at Afrika Tikkun in the Delft Township, I could have never prepared myself for what was to come that Monday morning. When we arrived, we checked in with the social worker at the facility and she told us that she would love for us to have the opportunity to visit the Delft Day hospital, their local health center. Given that Afrika Tikkun provides comprehensive services as far as nutrition, family services, child development and health care support, it seemed that this would be a valuable learning experience.
When we arrived at the hospital I was overcome with all of the suffering that I was witnessing. On top of this, I couldn’t help but feel as if I was imposing on these people in their darkest hours as I am not a medical student and felt I had no place here and could provide nothing to the people in the hospital. Thankfully, I was able to move past my own insecurities and anxieties about the hospital and I began to really grasp the pride with which the hospital workers described the work they do on a daily basis. I was so focused on the seemingly poor conditions of the facility that I failed to notice the diligent nature with which these doctors, nurses and social workers tend to their patients. We had the opportunity to visit the HIV/TB wings of the hospital where people could receive counseling and resources for ongoing treatment. This was a particularly special opportunity given that it was world AID’s day. Seeing the faces of those living with the disease, I was able to really conceptualize the impact that HIV/AIDS has on the people of South Africa.
Following this hospital visit, we joined a South African social worker, Asanda, from the Department of Social Development. We visited his regional and local offices to gain a better understanding of the government’s role in aiding the people of the townships. Throughout the day, I couldn’t help but notice how similar many of the social welfare policies and programs here in this country are to those in America.
I was struck by our time with one of the social auxiliary workers that facilitates the intake procedure with new clients. She explained that the facilities are such that there is little privacy for the clients and thus they have not been able to ensure the confidentiality of the clients during their meetings as they can be heard in the waiting room. Indeed, it was apparent that the facilities were not suitable for the large number of clients this agency serves.
We were also afforded the opportunity to visit numerous clients that are receiving temporary aid from the government. Their stories embodied the strength and perseverance of the people in this country. While these stories are not mine to share, I was moved by their courage and their trust in the government agencies. These agencies seem to symbolize the hope that they so desperately need in order to continue to move forward.
As I reflect on my time with Afrika Tikkun, I am struck by their ability to tend to all of the needs of the people of Delft. Whether it is counseling, child-care, health care or assistance with receiving government assistance, this organization is clearly committed to the better of this community as a whole, in all walks of life.