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South Africa: class class class

posted by Brett - he traveled to South Africa during July and August of 2008 for hands-on experience in public health, one of his concentrations at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study

So that you know, I am actually taking classes here. We have been all over the place, and it's all rooted in public health. We have been talking about the economic implications of malaria, how public health has changed from the Apartheid, all this crazy stuff.

I have really liked the classes, because each lecture is by a different person from a different field. It has been really good to view so many of these public health issues from such a wide range of perspectives; sociological, economic, medical, etc. And we have seen the real application of policies as we go into clinics and townships.

Today I went to a provincial clinic that treats trauma and HIV patients in an area of informal settling in Gugulethu. A few of us sat with the coordinator for about an hour and just launched questions and she just gave us comprehensive answers. It helped to better understand the conditions that the doctors and nurses have to work within in order to treat those around them. The clinic we visited is called the Hanaan Crusaid Treatment Centre. The treatment here is specifically for those that are HIV+ and the main purpose is to roll out first and second line ARV's (antiretro virals). But what is interesting is that the patients who choose to utilize the clinic must disclose their status to a certain number of members of their community, even the adolescents to their parents. This helps to battle the stigma associated with HIV, as well as indirectly holding the patient accountable for their treatment. They have a phenomenal adherence rate to drugs, sitting at about 98% and they attribute this to their counselors and the methods that they use. The program has been so successful that the coordinator, with whom we spoke, has been asked to start up the creation and management of another facility. Desmond Tutu is the overseer of the Hanaan facility, as well as some neighboring ones. Tutu has started a mobile testing and treatment campaign called TutuTesting.

It's an unusual place to be, in that when you study abroad you think that you'll get bombarded with culture shock or so many new things, but it's like being in a suburban area that has swapped demographics and just has less money. Everything is in English, as the three languages here are English, Afrikaans, and Xhosa. I like Xhosa because we have to make clicking sounds to say a bunch of the words.

Tonite for dinner I had this ridiculously good grilled calamari and then prawn wantons. I was at a restaurant called the Green Dolphin at the Waterkant. I meant to see a movie, Iron Women (?) about the Liberian president and her entirely female cabinet. But apparently my ticket is for tomorrow...hmm...

The food hasn't been too surprising or crazy. Some things are a little different. We eat ostrich a bunch, beef bacon is macon, and chicken liver isn't exclusive; actually, it's really easy to get and cheap.

I had to pull out some money today to pay for the safari we'll be going on, and how I wished the R3,000 I pulled out was actually dollars.

Picture taking has been slow because we've been in classes, but the clouds here still have unbelievable structure. Ugh clouds! It rains every day! Actually, today it didn't, but it was the first day without any. Whateva. But it's cold. Africa is cold. I think it's also kinda cool that I'm at just about the farthest point south on the map save for Antarctica. As if that place even existed...

I saw a surf movie this week called Zulu Surf Riders. It was a documentary. Actually I'm not gunna talk about it. It kinda sucked.

I'm hiking Table Mountain on Saturday.

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@ 10:29 PM, Blogger Bill said...


Nothing can replace your feet on the local ground, and face to face discussions with the people making things happen: their victories, their frustrations, their dreams. I believe that you will make them yours.

You are so much better a traveler than me. I can only travel with my eyes and ears. You travel with your STOMACH. You will eat anything, seeking out the local favorites and flavors. Not me....makes me squeamish.

Make this place yours. Become a citizen of the world.

Godspeed Brett.



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