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Postcards from Around the Globe

Day 4: Thursday, May 21, 2009

Adam McFarland - Now that I look back I realize that this was one of those moments -- one of those moments I will remember for the rest of my life. It was exactly why I came to South Africa. Not to advance myself in any way, but to have a truly humbling and unique experience by which I could learn about whom I am, my purpose, and how I am supposed to give so that others may have need for nothing.

After we left the room we walked several other places, but we got there so late either the people had already gone to the clinic, or they just weren’t home or needed any help. Surprisingly however it was the walking that I benefited from the most. As I look around and walk for something like several miles around this one particular area of the country I think I saw the truth about life with the people. My little friend, Julia, and I shared one of the longest conversations I think I’ve had since I’ve been here, carrying on for like two hours, all about the similarities and differences in our lives, the facts of her life, her personal opinions on all issues from school and boys to business and HIV/ AIDS. I got to see the houses that look like something similar to an over-populated country town where the people were lined up house by house, but the roads were dirt, the clothing unkempt, the animals loose, and the people happy. When we finally returned to the bus, we took our lovely health care workers (our “mothers”) home and went back to school for dinner. Once again I attempted to intrigue an individual for dinner but the conversations were so extremely sparse as everyone was famished. That night we had a bit of a gathering with the students of Wilberforce because it was our last day there. We further strengthened those bonds that I know are real. Those students were some of the most multi-faceted individuals I have had the privilege to meet. And they love to dance.

Maurice Wilkins - I don’t really think I thought about the idea of caring for others as much as I have thought of it today…You never really learn the importance of helping and developing others until a situation like the one I was in.

Our day was filled with helping Home Base Care workers. I soon got a quick understanding of who they were. These are women and men who take their time and energy to care for those who need it the most. They go door-to-door, by foot, to each patient’s house to do all that is necessary. I doubt any of these workers have formal training or get paid well, if at all. However, this doesn’t quench their spirit. There is something to be said about people who can find peace and joy in helping others. I must be the first to say that my level of respect for those who do this is very high. I know I am unable to do such work; the looks on the patients’ faces and the emotions that seem to fill every room, I just do not think I am the type of leader who will strive in that environment. I understand and accept that as leaders we must step outside of our comfort zones to help those in need. However, I think it is also important for leaders to know that there are some areas they just will not serve well.

The most striking moment within this experience was in the home of a bed-ridden man who was unable to fulfill his basic needs, like using the bathroom. His spirit seemed low and I am sure I did not make it any better, considering the vibes that I gave off. For this was an all-too familiar picture for me. It reminded me of my childhood when I, like the Home Care workers and the guy’s nephew, had to change diapers and tend to a person’s simplest needs. It brought every moment that I have never really dealt with, for that man was no longer a man anymore. All I could see was the image of my grandmother who day-in and day-out I had to help do the same things. I believe there is a beauty in all of this. It will make any man become humble and grateful. One is able to see the necessity in sowing a positive seed in someone’s life for you never know when it just might be the time when you need help. None of the people we interacted with that day cared about how intelligent I was. They were more concerned with if my brothers and I were sincere in approach to each situation. No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.

Eric Vickers - We drove through an area that reminded me of the stereotypical Africa that I was trying to erase from my mind. The roads were unpaved and were as red as Georgia clay. All of the homes were small; some were dilapidated while others were in good condition. Wires hung in back yards to dry washed clothes and people were always busy accomplishing some task. Our first stop was at a house in the neighborhood. We were greeted and told that we were at home. I yelled, ‘I’m home!’ I never felt so welcomed in a foreign place. Everyone freely gave hugs and we were grateful to receive them.

In order to press forward with our purpose, the students from Morehouse and Wilberforce combined into one large group and then divided into two mixed groups. My group consisted of the men who roomed with me along with Nina, Selena, Happy and a few others. The other group climbed into the van and met us as we walked to the Zone 3 clinic. It was at this venue where we were able to tour the narrow facility and shake hands with some of the patients who came for treatment. I was nervous before walking in because I did not know what to expect. However, I did not want anyone to know that I was nervous because I am supposed to be used this type of situation as a preacher. Neverthless, the experience was enriching because I was able to look into the faces, shake the hands and make an emotional connection with the least of these.

Jonathan Moore - Our group, along with employees from the clinic, went to visit the houses of patients who were unable to personally visit. We went to about seven houses on the first day, but there were a few that particularly stuck in my mind. The first house was that of a woman who was considered a Category 2 patient. Category 1 classifies the patients who are still able to help themselves – working, cooking and doing the normal tasks that an adult would do. Category 2 classifies the patients who were not as mobile, but still able to do some things with assistance. Category 3 classified the patients who were bedridden.

The first house was of a woman who suffered from severe arthritis. Her knees were swollen and part of her treatment was for them to be rubbed. I volunteered to aid the clinic worker, Mr. Carter, for this job. We put latex gloves on our hands and massaged ointment from her feet to her knees. It was apparent that our labor was appreciated. The entire group crowded the bedroom and watched as the woman received her treatment. We washed our hands and continued our journey.

More Postcards
Day 1: Monday, May 18, 2009
Day 2: Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Day 3: Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Day 4: Thursday, May 21, 2009
Day 5: Friday, May 22, 2009