What I See In Your Photos With “Poor African Children”

1. I see someone who was lucky enough to travel to a magnificent continent

And we welcome you. We welcome you to feel in your bones the wealth of our loam soil. Listen to the stories whispered by our winds. Immerse yourself in our skies. We welcome you to open your heart – and your eyes – to see that our narrative is more than one of suffering.

not tourist attraction
Base image by Stephen and Melanie Murdoch, click for their Flickr Photostream.

Continue reading “What I See In Your Photos With “Poor African Children””

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Land of the Disability Grant

Despite my love of clinic days, Orthopaedic Clinic Days are proving extremely demotivating.

On a clinic day we see more than 200 patients. We are an extremely stretched department but we try extremely hard to keep our patients functional. By far the majority of South Africans are reliant on their hands and feet for their daily work, and so it is important that we preserve their ability to make a living. And we make a massive effort to do so.

Susan Dorothea White, "Right Hand" 2010
Susan Dorothea White, “Right Hand” 2010

And yet on clinic days every second patient tells me that they want a Disability Grant. A measly grant that brings 1,1 million South Africans at the most ZAR1,400 (USD112) per month. Hardly a worthy income. Continue reading “Land of the Disability Grant”

Hypothesis: South African Sights for South African Vision

While I was in beautiful Cape Town for my leave (wow, that was a long time ago), my sister and I mused about how we have access to this gorgeous country simply by virtue of being born here. “Just think,” she said, “people pay thousands of rands to see Table Mountain, and here we are, just walking around and seeing it as much as we want!” She was quite right, of course – at the same time, the MV Explorer was docked in Cape Town.

But for a long time, I’ve been thinking how not all who are born in our country have access to these attractions on a very basic level.

Virtually everywhere I have traveled, foreigners pay more than locals to see attractions. I saw this for the first time in China in 2011, where foreigners are very clearly divided from locals wishing to visit the Huanglong caves.

china foreigners Continue reading “Hypothesis: South African Sights for South African Vision”

Paired Reading: Refugees and Displaced Persons in Africa

While on holiday in Zambia I read two absolutely breathtaking books. I bought both of these books myself and was not asked to review them, but I feel the need to share them with everyone.

A prelude: The number of displaced persons in Africa is huge. We have many refugees and many internally displaced persons and in South Africa, the supposed land of milk and honey, many foreigners have been victims of xenophobia. This year especially has seen flares in violence against persons perceived to be foreigners There are a lot of politics underlying the whole story, and it’s not something I necessarily understand well enough to explain in simple terms, but it is tangible in this land.

Abandoned Somali shop, Makause, East Rand. By Richard Poplak. Click for link.
Abandoned Somali shop, Makause, East Rand. By Richard Poplak. Click for link.

Continue reading “Paired Reading: Refugees and Displaced Persons in Africa”

For Healthcare Workers: Turn Their Pain Into Power

A short post to share a song you probably already know:

I first heard Superheroes by The Script sometime last year and it pretty much had me in tears. Granted, it’s probably the combination of the Sowetan setting of the music video and the absolutely heartbreaking plus uplifting subject matter (how’s that for messing with your emotions?). Continue reading “For Healthcare Workers: Turn Their Pain Into Power”

Reviewing “Ebola” – and can we just admit that we don’t have a handle on this?

I read Ebola: The Natural and Human History of a Deadly Virus by David Quammen. There is hardly a more current book on the matter and I am getting so many questions from friends and family that I figured I might as well inform myself a little more.

In 1976 a deadly virus emerged from the Congo forest. As swiftly as it came, it disappeared, leaving no trace. Over the four decades since, Ebola has emerged sporadically, each time to devastating effect. It can kill up to 90 percent of its victims. In between these outbreaks, it is untraceable, hiding deep in the jungle. The search is on to find Ebola’s elusive host animal. And until we find it, Ebola will continue to strike.

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the literature (or you’re a student or professional in any of the medical sciences) you might not learn too much that you did not already know.

“The current scientific understanding of ebolaviruses constitutes pinpricks of lights against a dark background.”

Continue reading “Reviewing “Ebola” – and can we just admit that we don’t have a handle on this?”

Visiting Haiti through “Because We Are”

Ten-year-old orphan Libète has been hardened by the daily struggle to survive in Cité Soleil, Haiti’s most infamous slum. But when she and her best friend, Jak, discover a young mother and her baby brutally murdered in a nearby marsh, it’s unlike anything she’s encountered before. Though initially shocked, the adults of Cité Soleil move on quickly from the event; after all, death is commonplace in this community. Undaunted, Libète takes action with Jak in tow, plunging herself into a dangerous, far-reaching plot that will change her irrevocably and threaten everything she holds dear.

It seems I’m on a streak of reading thrillers that don’t entirely conform to the genre – although my ‘fraidy pantsness is not exactly complaining. Continue reading “Visiting Haiti through “Because We Are””