Voluntary health services need your time

2013-02-01 00:00

TOGETHER with Carisbrooke School principal Dan Shoba, I recently arranged for the Cancer Association of South Africa’s (Cansa) mobile clinic to visit the Carisbrooke community, outside Ixopo, KwaZulu-Natal.

We drove on the R56 road to Umzimkhulu and on the way we passed Thornville, Richmond, and Ixopo. A few kilometres after Ixopo, at a sign reading “D 414”, we took a left turn into Carisbrooke.

We drove slowly along the mud and gravel roads, avoiding animals, potholes and stones until we reached the Carisbrooke Community Hall.

Carisbrooke, made famous by Alan Paton’s book Cry the beloved Country, is surrounded by verdant valleys, trees and mud huts.

We set up the mobile clinic and explained to the local community the purpose of our visit. The mobile clinic’s programme staff told the community about the different types of cancers and carried out pap smears, breast examinations, and finger-prick prostate tests for free. The immense joy, gratitude and deep satisfaction the community displayed towards the Cansa staff for rendering their valuable time and services was clearly evident to all present.

This invaluable service, especially in rural areas, is essential in order to dispel myths and superstitions surrounding cancer, allowing for early detection of this and other diseases.

Standing there looking at the long line of people snaking its way to the clinic in the scorching heat made me emotional. The thought that went through my mind was: “Surely these human beings are worthy of better lives and health care? Our Constitution guarantees adequate health care and a life of dignity for all.”

Shoba said it was the first time such a service was provided to this poverty-stricken community.

While waiting for politicians, political parties and health authorities to sort out the malaise in the health sector, we ordinary human beings should take up the cudgels and, wherever possible, put in place structures, through our voluntary services, that will ease the burden of the less fortunate, especially those faced with debilitating diseases.

In this regard, I would like to encourage every conscience- driven individual to volunteer some of his or her spare time to Cansa or any other bona fide organisation doing voluntary work, especially in rural areas.

Cansa and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs) cannot function without volunteers.

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