Today we again visited with the staff at the Sunshine Coast Hospice in the Alexandria office. Alexandria is about 45 minutes from Port Alfred, so it wasn't too bad of a trek to get there. When we arrived at their office, we met with Sister Betty and two other care workers. The office here isn't that big but they are using everything they have to make a difference. Because we are also on our way to Port Elizabeth to catch our flight back to Johburg, we only met with the staff here for about an hour.
During our discussions, we learned that Sunshine Coast Hospice needs funding for the children’s support group. They usually have 10 attendees but they haven't held the sessions for a while because they can't provide a snack for the children. According to Sister Betty, the costs for the snacks are about $15 (U.S.) per month. If I heard the response correctly, that would provide snacks for the children for a couple of sessions in the month. This is another area the kind hearted folks at Haven Hospice could potentially help with.
By the way, I have failed to mention how the ambassadors have been giving the items off their backs and feet to the staff members here and for their patients. Katie gave a pair of Nike shoes, literally off of her feet, and Vonceil gave some personal garments and other clothing as well. You all should know that when you are confronted with this kind of poverty, directly, it is hard to do nothing about it. I'm certain that's what caused them to feel compelled to give so graciously. As a matter of fact, my fellow ambassadors would prefer I not share this information with you because they do not want to call attention to themselves, but for everyone back at home to truly share in this experience, you have to know this happened. They didn't do it for recognition. They did it because people were in need and they knew they could give up a few small items that would go a long way in those people's lives.
We arrived at the Port Elizabeth airport around 11 a.m. Believe it or not, the check-in process was much smoother and easier for us this time. I'm not sure why but we were overwhelmed with offers for help to get us checked in. The ladies chuckled at the situation because they joked that perhaps I had an admirer. That's so funny that we laughed for a while about that one. Anyway, we checked our bags and headed off for the departing gate.
Because David Barker is joining us on the trip to attend the APCA/HPCA conference, making our way through the Johburg airport was extremely easy and uneventful this time. The hotel we are staying at is called The Birchwood and it is also where the conference is being held. If you can imagine what a small Motel 6 looks like, just add about another 1,000 rooms or so and you will have a picture of what this looks like. It threw me for a loop because I've never seen a motel with so many rooms before. Welcome to South Africa. We love saying that, by the way.
After check-in, we had the arduous task of trying to get our luggage to our rooms. The hotel did have vans and golf carts to take you to your room, but it was check-in day for the conference so it was a mad house. I was pulled out of the line first and taken to my room and the others were not that far behind me. I'm in building area 3,000 and the others are in area 800 and 4,000. For us to get to each other, it is a precision military maneuver.
After taking a little time to freshen up from another early start and hours of traveling, we checked into the conference registration center and received our material. Tonight was the kick-off reception, so we had dinner and off to bed we went. Until next time...
Haven Hospice Chief Information Officer Arthur Clark is one of five Haven Ambassadors chosen to travel to Grahamstown Hospice – our sister hospice organization in South Africa. The experience will provide an opportunity for the Haven Hospice Ambassadors to learn about end-of-life care in South Africa and to bring insights back to Haven Hospice to share with their colleagues. The selected Haven Ambassadors come from a variety of career paths and will bring a wide-range of experiences to the exchange experience: Pam Giebeig, hospice nurse; Tangela Wilson, respiratory therapist; and Vonceil Levine and Katie Alphahando, clinical social workers.