Getting there is most of the battle. Even seasoned travelers can fill their heads with “what if” phantoms. I consider air travel half way around the world a miracle, and for me it is comforting to just be part of a miracle. Yet I take great delight in seeing my name held on a paper by people with smiling faces as I arrive in a new airport!
Any way you slice it, the shortest trip to South Africa is 30 hours from LA. I chose double red eye flights, and arrived in time to catch up with other members of our team, chug a triple shot of java and have a day touring Pretoria, the capital. Tourist shops feature all kinds of decoratives using various animals and animal parts. Animals still grow well here. Those in the photo are all real, stuffed, and ready to embellish your den, even the 15 foot giraffe or the 10 foot elephant.
South Africa has a very rich side and a very poor majority, with little in the middle. The cities rival major world power cities. We drove into a countryside bursting in well-watered fertile farmlands, managed by the poor living in villages. A few hours drive north took us to Dennilton and the Ndlovo Medical Center, with four doctors. The small center is the only medical service for a population of 140,000. Their focus is TB and AIDS. They had previously received a dozen of our wheelchairs, and on examination they seem very well used.
We had a 90 minute performance by children attending Youth With A Mission, also in Dennilton. Music and dance is a backbone here. The performance was really fine, About 50 of the children are orphans, AIDS having taken both parents. The school gets most of its support from the government, but the government is 10 months late in their payments. Each day the children and the staff pray for food. Each day food comes. Like I said, life in the real world.
Wheelchair distributions begin Monday.