Monday, October 19, 2009

Volunteers Survey Homes in Zenzele

The blog entry below was written by HOPE volunteer Torrey Flynn. Torrey is a first-time Project HOPE Volunteer who currently works as a nurse practitioner in South Africa and lives in Cape Town. Flynn 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.

Our second day of surveying was greeted by wonderful sunshine and a cloudless sky. Zenzele, although well organized, is a settlement intersected by dusty, brick-red dirt roads; any rain would have halted our progress through the community as roads would be messy and difficult to pass on foot.

As planned, we gathered to meet our translators at our staging area- the OVC, or Orphans and Vulnerable Children Center of Zenzele. Each of us paired up with a community volunteer to tackle the task of surveying the community on their health habits and needs- Eric with Mama Thandi, Brian with Mimosa, Michelle with Thandi, and myself with Michael. We had established these teams the day before and our system of surveying and translating was down pat.

Our community volunteers were invaluable. Knowledgeable about the geography, layout, and members of the community- these volunteers spent the day walking with us from house to house. Of greatest importance were their language skills; speaking English, Shangaan, Tswana, and Xhosa, our translators helped us conduct a 16 page, hour-long, comprehensive needs survey on randomly selected homes in the area. It was not an easy task, but everyone's spirits were high for we found the community welcoming and receptive to our inquiries. The day ended where it began, at the Orphans and Vulnerable Children Center, as each pair of volunteers came in to grab a chair, sit around the table and share a touching, sad, or funny story about the strangers we met and the lives we were privileged to know.


  1. Looks like you're getting a great start! I can't wait to hear more about the project HOPE activities!