Day 4 – Health Train

MAY 19, 2008 12:05 AM| no comments

Today began with an early start for Gerald, Alex and Sam. David woke them up with a cup of tea and they set off to film the sunrise. Sam has filmed some challenging links for Stephen to pick up when he goes to the Global Health Conference in Washington at the end of next week. We are filming a package for that conference plus links that make it look as though Sam is here in Africa at the same time that Stephen is on the ground in the States – the wonders of television!

Alex and Camera

There are so many stories to tell that we could make a complete documentary. After breakfast, we packed up, said farewell to Roni and Jesse, then headed off to Illinge’s Multi-Purpose Hall, about 30 mins from Bholotwa. This community space is today home to a travelling healthcare facility – the Health Train. It is brought here by two organisations, the Small Projects Foundation and Phelophepa, which means ‘good, clean health’. Both bring healthcare to areas where it is not readily available. The Health Train comes to Illinge once a year. Today, the train had to stop in Queenstown and make the last part of the journey by road. It was as if the circus had come to town!

There were tents for eye tests, general medicine, dentists, HIV testing and counseling, gardening, nutrition, a pharmacy and one massive marquee where there were presentations all day about HIV/Aids and remembrances for Candlelight. We met Dr Paul Cromhout, the inspiring South African behind this initiative. Usually the people of Illinge would have to travel to Queenstown to see a doctor, some 30 km away. Of course they don’t go, because the choice is often between taxi fare or feeding the family. Medicines, which are supposed to be free are sometimes prescribed by healthcare workers who use their position to make a little extra themselves.

Sam interviewed Paul, walking through the crowd. As they progressed, they attracted growing attention. Both adults and children crowded round to see what all the fuss was about! Lots of the children (and the CCW) that we met yesterday came up for a hug, which was lovely. The queues to see the medical specialists grew by the minute. It was first come, first served and if anyone hears me complaining about the NHS again – shoot me!

We finally persuaded Monica and Heidi to be interviewed. So, back to the project house for a little peace and quiet. Heidi was really shy and I was worried that we were spoiling her birthday. But they are doing such fantastic work here, we should all be shouting about it!!

WebsEdge crew and HeidiMonica


Sadly it was time to go. We said our farewells and look forward to welcoming Heidi and Monica in London this autumn. We managed to find our way back onto the right road this time. An uneventful journey except for Gerald having to do a little financial management for Ciaran on a layby in the middle of nowhere. Arriving at our B&B, we thought longingly of our lovely retreat at Bholotwa – no comparison (the only thing in this place’s favour was the warm running water).

An early start in the morning as we leave for Malawi, so off to bed.

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