My educational trip to SA(long)

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May 12th, 2003, 10:52 PM
  #1
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My educational trip to SA(long)

Well, guys, I am off to live in South Africa in a short 5 weeks. I still don't have a doctor job, and I have no idea where I will be living. My daughter is stressed but we have made the decision for her to go to boarding school in South Africa instead of Massachusetts. It looks more rigorous and the uniforms look great on a 16 year old who is used to having her belly showing.

I was there in April for 2 weeks with my daughter's school, not my usual luxury trip.
Stayed at the Sandton Park Plaza which for the price was OK, but not the Michaelangelo where we stayed last year. An easy walk to the Square where you can eat and shop.

We were there for educational purposes, so went to Palm Sunday mass in Soweto and Regina Mundi Church, where everyone was gracious. Did a lot of singing back and forth between our school kids. I spent the next morning in Soweta at the largest hospital in Africa, Bara, where I helped in the Pediatric AIDS clinic. It was the day when children were actually getting meds as they had private sources or insurance, while on most days the kids go untreated. The treatment was still antiquated at best. The linen was never changed, the rooms had no sinks, and the docs did not wear gloves when drawing blood.

I will skip some of the other gory details so as not to leave all of you depressed for your glorious trips to Mombo, which I have done also. I know this is a travel forum but if any of you have any questions I will be glad to answer them privately.

We had a memorable meeting with Walter Sisulu at his home in Linden and I met many of his family members, each nicer than the next. Unfortunately he died 2 weeks later, a truly great man who spent most of his life banned or in prison.

We went back to Soweto and walked around a shanty town with members of a volunteer hospice group from the neighborhood. The kids were so overwhelmed that most of them were in tears. The little kids were great and I passed out my pens, paper, books and clothes. My daughters clothes I gave to an old man who weighted about 100 pounds.

The kids went to Pretoria for lectures from the Chief of Staff for Mbeki and an expert on indiginous religions. I went job hunting.

We then went to Bongani for 2 days. I was lobbying for Jaci's for more game but I guess the price was right. I got my rest in and the kids who had never left Massachusetts got charged by an elephant.

Finally Cape Town. Everyone is right. It is a glorious city although the weather can change fast. We had the best weather at Table Mountain and enjoyed the view and the dassies.(little rodents closely related to elephants!) We stayed at the old prison because they couldn't fit everyone into the Sea Point where we were supposed to stay. My daughter called it the hooker hotel but at least it was within walking distance of the Waterfront where we ate every night except one. We went to the Africa Cafe which was great the first time but I think my stomach has still not recovered after 4 weeks. The extra oil factor is not great on the low fat american tummy! A massive amount of food from all over Africa.

I again went job and real estate hunting while my daughter visited schools, orphanages, and everyone got sick. I really think it wasn't Africa but a bad case of stomach flu from the kids being in close quarters. You haven't lived until you have cleaned up vomit from a tour bus. A few went to the ER of a local hospital. I went on rounds at the biggest Children's specialty hospital in Africa and found the doctors and nurses great, but the diseases totally new to me. Most of the babies had HIV. We went to Robben Island and the best part was the guide who had been a prisoner for 20 years. Were were supposed to have another famous one from the Rivonia trial but he couldn't make it. Unfortunately our Parliament visit was disappointing cause it was a holiday week.

So if there is anyone from South Africa out there with a job for a Harvard trained physician, I am willing to work for food!!
I hope I can be in CT but does everyone else and I will probably settle for either Druban or Port Elizabeth where the need is greatest. I need to brush up on my surfing!

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kimwhits is offline  
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May 13th, 2003, 12:36 AM
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Kim
Sounds like an eye-opening trip and a successful one, despite some of the things you saw.
Want to wish you very best of luck with this huge life step - and to say how much I admire you for getting on and doing it.
Hope you will keep in touch here and let us know how you're doing?
Kindest Regards
Kavey
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May 13th, 2003, 04:18 AM
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Kimwhits, you certainly saw a different side to SA than the one most tourists see.

Good luck with your move and keep us posted with regular reports.You certainly are brave to go without definite offers.Your daughter is very brave too. But the kids will love her. They love the American accent there and they will all be fascinated by her. My teenagers find the kids very friendly when they go there.

Just interested, do you need to take any exams in order to work as a doctor there? What red tape is involved. I'm asking because I know about the reverse situation, that of South African doctors and dentists coming to the US. (Boy! Do I ever know all about that!!!!)

PS. Sorry I could not get you in touch with my cousin in Durban, but he has been on the move.
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May 13th, 2003, 06:50 AM
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Waverly: Actually all I did was send in all my diplomas and recommendations.
They are waiving everything else. So now I have a license, work permit, and no paying job. I could volunteer in the HIV clinic or work in one of the AIDS orphanage, and perhaps open some doors for a paying job that way!
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May 13th, 2003, 08:57 AM
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Hi Kim,

Have you checked if any of your US local hospitals have affiliations or "flying doctors" programs in SA? Also, does the CDC have any field positions available there? Just some thoughts.

My hats off to you - what a wonderful and helpful adventure you are embarking on!!!
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