Thursday, October 15, 2009

Volunteers Begin Work in South Africa

The blog entry below was written by HOPE volunteer Dr. Brian Crawford from Colorado. A previous Project HOPE Volunteer, Dr. Crawford is one of four volunteers participating in a pilot volunteer program focusing on chronic disease assessment in two urban slums in the vicinity of Johannesburg.

Happy Reading!

Being in this line of work does not allow one to rest and get caught up on sleep after a transatlantic flight. After missing my plane due to a weather delay, our group pushed forward under the command of Stefan and Andee. Two full days of orientation followed on the scope of work in Johannesburg and meeting the community where we will be surveying over the next two weeks.

I tried to blame my early morning insomnia on the song birds outside- a sorry excuse for jet lag. Beyond the sleep fatigue felt by most of us, today was a very rewarding day for our group. We spent our first full day surveying and working with the translators in the informal settlement of Zenzele which consists of roughly 1,200 households.

Zenzele, as mentioned in previous blogs, is an informal settlement on the outskirts of Johannesburg. This “peri-urban” environment, per Stefan, potentially creates a hybrid of problems from rural and urban areas such as water and sanitation issues and nutritional issues compounded by chronic disease states.

Our purpose is to survey the population of Zenzele through random sampling and evaluate the interface of this peri-urban environment. Going through an hour long survey with a member in this community is one way to understand how these people live. Yet, it provides a secondary benefit, the opportunity to walk into their homes and share their life for an hour or so which cannot be captured by any nicely worded question.

At night as I lie in bed, I review the day and remember some of their trying and remarkable answers—their stories. I can’t go to sleep. And it’s not due to jet lag.

Brian Crawford

1 comment:

  1. Lynne&Joseph McArdleOctober 20, 2009 at 4:53 PM

    Dear Son,
    What an awesome experience this is for you and for the people whose lives you are touching. We are so very proud of you and all the work the volunteers are doing. I'm sure the life stories of the South African people are affecting your perception of how the common bond to survive is so universal and yet so unique depending on where you live.
    God bless you Son.
    Mom and Joseph
    p.s. You have quite a gift for writing Brian. I like your analogies and descriptive style. As a retired English teacher, I would give you an A+.