As our week in Nelspruit came to an end, and I felt both physically and emotionally drained. Hopping from one department to the next at the Rob Ferreira hospital, I was able to spend time in the medical wards, the surgery theaters, the psych ward, the pediatrics ward, and the occupational therapy center. While the work done in each department differed, they all had one thing in common: a severe lack of resources.
The lack of resources meant that patients are prematurely discharged due to a lack of beds in the ward; that young women have to endure traumatic and painful evacuation surgery that could be conducted easily and painlessly with the right apparatus; that psych patients are given substandard medications because those of higher quality are out of budget; that the bed-ridden have to sleep with stained and minimal bedding. It depressed me to watch as doctors and nurses moved from patient to patient, taking notes on their progress – or lack thereof – and explaining the long list of things they would like to do for their patients, but cannot do, due to various insufficiencies.
By the last day I felt overwhelmed with the thought that, while the South African health care system has improved massively over the years, their hands are still tied.
At the end of the week we visited the Apartheid museum where we learned more about Nelson Mandela’s incredible legacy and his life long battle against the racist regime in South Africa. The next day we spent the afternoon biking around the township of Soweto, where We were taught some of their local lingo and got to try the delicious South African dish, bunny chow. We then began our journey back to Cape Town, happy to be returning to our home, and feeling both accomplished and enlightened after our ten-day excursion.
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<p>My name is Evie and I am currently finishing up my freshman year at Princeton University. I am thinking about studying public and international policy, and have a special interest in health policy and public health. When I'm not studying, I like exploring new restaurants with my friends, singing with my a cappella group, going on runs, taking pictures, and napping. I love to travel, and am so excited to explore Cape Town and its surroundings and experience a summer I won't forget!</p>