Madwaleni parties, people and politics!

We haven’t written a blog post in months, I was going to do one mammoth update, but that would be too long to read, so here is the first of a few posts updating you on our lives at Madwaleni.

2015 has been the year of having babies and parties. The having babies and impressive growth of our community will be in a different post, for now here are some of the fun parties we have had this year.

Duncan’s birthday in March was the first time that we felt like a real (really huge) family; children running around, tennis balls flying and dogs interfering. Here are some photo’s:

IMG_9946

A game of cricket on the lawn!

IMG_9948

PicMonkey Collage1

PicMonkey Collage

Sam, Dyl, Caleb and Emma (Emma spent the party trying to steal the Banoffee pie and the ball!)

IMG_9979

In August, Andrew and Stu both turned 30. They had a combined 60th Party. There were fairy lights, fillet, speeches, and a bunch of dancing granny’s and grampa’s (most people dressed up like they were 90 rather than 60!)

IMG_1261

So Bob is already 60, so he dressed as a 120 year old, with pill boxes and comical behavior the entire night!

Bob is already 60, so he dressed as a 120 year old, with pill boxes and comical behavior the entire night! Here he is busy looking for his scarf and walking stick.

Yes, Andrew and Sty shaved the top of their heads off for this party. Serious commitment... shown by their wives.

Andrew and Stu shaved the hair off the top of their heads for the party. Serious commitment… shown by their wives.

IMG_8852

IMG_8853

IMG_8854

IMG_8861

Shan came as a Xhosa Makhulu!

Shan came as a Xhosa Makhulu!

Speeches!

Speeches!

Granny and Grampa Lotz!

Granny and Grampa Lotz!

The dance floor!

The dance floor!

IMG_8901

Granny and Grampa Gibson!

Granny and Grampa Gibson!

The old men

The old men

IMG_8938

Dyl organised a “Madwaleni’s Got Talent” evening for his birthday in September. It was awesome fun and impressive to see all the talent in our little community!

DSC01228

Kayla and teacher Rachel performing a beautiful ballet number!

The Simpsons performed the Simpson Family Rap, it was great!

The Simpson Family Rap, it was great!

Darren and Michelle did a Suzelle DIY on how to make a pavlova and deal with the persisting sewage smell in the air at the same time!

Darren and Michelle doing a Suzelle DIY performance on how to make a pavlova while simultaneously dealing with a persisting sewage smell in the air!

Rach and Kirst perfomed

Rach and Kirst performing “Ice Ice Baby”

John-D led the team in an impressive gumboot dance

John-D leading the team in an impressive gumboot dance

The gumboot dance even incorporated the currently returning Egrets!

The gumboot dance even incorporated the currently returning Egrets!

Dyl, Duncs and Andrew played a Michael Mole song togther

Dyl, Duncs and Andrew playing a Matthew Mole song.

The audience. a good crowd.

A good crowd.

John-D buying some time while some of the acts were waiting for on-call doctors to get back from the hospital!

John-D buying some time while some of the acts were waiting for on-call doctors to get back from the hospital!

Bob explaining the universe!

Bob explaining the universe!

DSC01308

Stu wrote a song and performed it with John D on drums and Andrew playing the harmonica!

Stu performing a song he wrote, John D  is on drums and Andrew is playing the harmonica!

See the words and a little video clip of the song below

DSC01325

DSC01328

The birthday man and his lovely wife!

The birthday man and his lovely wife!

Unfortunately life at Madwaleni is not all fun and parties, and we have also had many significant changes over the year. However, as always, there is no place we would rather be. We have lost some doctors this year bringing our numbers down significantly, with the hospital being busier than ever. At the start of the year we said a sad goodbye to Mark and Jet (and their little Ympie), we miss them dearly. We were thrilled to welcome Michelle Allen, our new clinical manager and her family! What a difference it has made to have a clinical manager and the Allen’s join our Madwaleni family. We also welcomed our comm serv doctor, Lungelo, in March and said goodbye to our 2014 comm serv, Garrick in August. We are currently down to seven full time doctors. We started the year with 9 rehabs. Two comm servs stayed on from 2014 but by March rehab was down to 6 as the 2014 comm servs moved on and I left to have Ben. Fortunately Thandi has had an amazing team of hardworking and dedicated comm serves . In March we also welcomed Kuan, an awesome comm serv pharmacist, he has been a great addition to the clinical team, but pharmacy too is short staffed as all of the pharmacy assistants have resigned, leaving Siyamthanda and Kuan to run pharmacy alone from October.

If the hospital isn’t keeping our clinical team busy enough, there have also been service delivery protests on the road and the nurses have been protesting due to problems with their salaries, accommodation and study leave. On top of that all, the hospital has endured many power failures (the longest lasting 48 hours, although we know this isn’t exclusive to rural living!) The current lack of chemicals required to treat the water we pump up from the river makes bathing feel rather counter productive.

Nevertheless, these are all challenges we knew we would have to face when we first arrived at Madwaleni. We have to remind ourselves that there were many more challenges we were anticipating that we have not had deal with. We now have beautiful accommodation, a great vibrant community and really satisfying work. Plus Andrew gets to come home for lunch! What a place to start our family!

If you are thinking of doing some time in a rural hospital, perhaps this will convince you. We can’t always promise it will be easy, but we can promise a life changing, wonderful experience and a supportive community. 

Ben, our tiny human, agrees that rural simply rocks!

Ben, our tiny human, agrees that rural simply rocks!

Advertisements

Catch-up On Life At Madwaleni

It is our second year at Madwaleni and we have been particularly useless at blogging this year. So much has happened at Madwaleni in the last seven months and the new year has brought much change, particularly in terms of staffing. This blog post has been edited multiple times as things have changed so much especially in the last few months. 

At the end of last year we said goodbye to Sarah and Scott and all the community service therapists (Tansy, Lauren, Megan and Nienke). Since January, we have also said goodbye to Phindi and Elpitha (medical doctors) who left in February and April.

At the start of the year we welcomed the Poole family (Stuart, a medical doctor, his wife, Leanne and their 1 year old son Caleb), Garrick Barber (community service doctor), 5 new community service therapists (Nelisa, Ashley, Nicky, Tania and Zoe), Ncebekazi (community service radiographer) and two dentists (Tiaan and Ciska-Mari). Then at the beginning of July we have had the very exciting addition of a married doctor couple; Michaela and John-D Lotz, who despite having applied in March and numerous follow ups in the preceeding 4 months, they still had to fight for their posts in the week that they arrived. Nothing like marching into the HR offices at Bisho, armed with your dog to get things done! They have now signed their contracts and been working for a month. They even got paid their salaries, sort of. Our clinical team now consists of 10 doctors, 3 physios, 3 OT’s, 1 speechie, 3 radiographers and 2 dentists!

The renovations to the staff accomodation continue to be a cycle of anticipation, disappointment, frustration and hope. Three new units were completed at the end of May. The finishing touches on these units had unnecessary delays, but the houses are looking great and those who have moved into them are really enjoying them. Last month they handed over the last two converted garages (flatlets). They have also started work on three more houses which were emptied with people moving, and seem to be making steady progress. We’ll be incredibly relieved when it’s completed!

It is hard to believe that this project started in March last year and we were promised it would be done by August 2013! Despite this, we feel it is truly amazing that in 18 months there have been eight new units added to the accommodation at Madwaleni. This project has required so much in terms of follow up and chasing that things get done, but we feel that once it is all done it is going to be a huge blessing to Madwaleni and the attraction of more staff.

Here is a summary of Madwaleni life in pictures over the last 8 months (some of these pictures are very outdated, but thought we would share them anyway):

We had so much fun sharing in a Madwaleni Christmas with those left behind at over the festive season. We even had Mark’s parents and El’s parents join us for Christmas lunch which was really special. Here are some pictures of our first Madwaleni Chritsmas.

Image

Image

ImageImage

After being fed up with the area around our housing looking like a construction site, we decided to have another “take back Madwaleni weekend” where we tried to clear between our houses with our soon-to-not-be-shiny-new lawnmover. It was an exhausting but satisfying weekend, the most successful part of the weekend was using the pile of stones in front of our house to build a road over the mud that taken captive many vehicles over the summer.

Sam and Jade were particularly gifted at road building

Summer brought with it some amazing times at our beach, with evening braai’s on the beach and even some camping. There is no place quite like Madwaleni in summer!

Camping at Nkanya Nkanya Nkanya beach fun with babies IMG_9347 Cows at Nkanya

We had loads of fun in summer when Thandi set up a swimming pool. We had some awesome lunches at our house with a dip in the pool in the middle of the working day.

Swimming poolWe have had some amazing weekends away. It feels like we live in one of the most beautiful places in the world!

We love having visitors, and have already had so many visitors this year! What a blessing it is for friends and family to travel to our part of the world.

We loved taking Jenny and Dave (Andrew’s sister and her husband) to the beautiful Hluleka.

Hluleka 2 Hluleka Jen_Dave

Hluleka

Hluleka Nature Reserve with the lovely Mark, Jet and Ympie

Jet and Mark

Jet, Mark and Ymke, what a blessing they are to our team

We had a wonderful weekend away at Bulungula with friends from Zithulele hospital.

Bulungula

We had an awesome visit from the Timberlake’s (who hold the record for visiting us twice in 8 months!). We went for a walk in the village surrounding the hospital where Joseph exclaimed later “I made 100 friends!” Joseph and a bunch of local children played rugby and had fun playing for the duration of the walk. Amazing how play is a universal language and how simple children make it look to interact with people who don’t share a common language!

Walk with timberlakes

Nic and John’s visit in April was such a good catch up, we met them at Hole in the Wall.

Hole in the wall with Nic and John

Nic and John1

Our family grew with the addition of Ozzie Oswald Oscar Miller at the beginning of April, a golden retriever puppy who grows in size and naughtiness by the day! What a champ!

Ozzie 1

Ozzie's first trip to the beach, camping at Bulungula

Ozzie’s first trip to the beach, camping at Bulungula

Ozzie growing

IMG_20140604_171952~2

We recently discovered a new gem of a weekend away; Woodcliffes Farm outside Maclear. It is a beautiful, cozy farm house in the middle of nowhere at the foot of the Drakensberg Mountains.

maclear

Maclear view from house

Skinny dip pools

We took a trip to the beautiful “skinny dip pools”. The water was particularly icy!

Some pictures of general Madwaleni life:

Happy birthday Caleb

Caleb’s 1st birthday!

Ozzie and Cody

Ozzie and Cody (The Poole’s newest addition!)

Happy Gibsons Madwaleni Fun

We sadly said goodbye to El (one of our doctors) in April. She went out with style!

El's farewell

Here are some pictures of the renovations and the houses when they were nearly complete.

Building

Building 2

We have been incredibly blessed to move into one of the newly renovated houses, a lovely two bedroomed place with a garden of rubble! We’ve enjoyed making it our own. It’s great to have an extra room for when our growing newest family member runs out of space in Katy’s uterus.

As mentioned above we are thrilled to welcome JD and Michaela to the clinical team in the last month, however staffing shortages do unfortunately continue. There is currently a nursing crisis at the hospital and our nurses are incredible short staffed, there has been some progress made and we hope to see the fruits of this soon.

We are in the process of starting up our NGO at the hospital (Layitha Foundation) and have found the process, which we started at the end of last year, to be a rather complex and lengthy one. We would really appreciate your prayerful support regarding this. Our hope is for the NGO to bring about a sense of hope to the community and sustainability to those interested in working at Madwaleni.

Stu has taken over the leading of our weekly Home Group / Church and has been such a blessing to our spiritual development at Madwaleni, which at times can be quite challenging having been stripped of all the ‘comforts’ of church in the city. We’re excited to see our community growing!

Our year has been filled with highs and lows, but on the whole, 2014 brought with it a huge sense of settling for Andrew and I. We love Madwaleni are are excited for the future here.

IMG_20140515_170519

– Katy (and Andrew)

A long overdue blog post

It has been a long time since our last blog post and although we haven’t reported on them yet, the ups and downs have continued at Madwaleni over the last few months.

Following a promising start, our housing renovations were put on hold for a while as there were problems with payment of the contractor. There was nothing we could do from our side to fix these problems. We were promised each week that the building would start again, however our hopes began to fade after two months of no work being done. The grass began to grow up and hide the piles of rubble; the hospital it seemed had also given up on the work starting again and so was trying its best to heal the scars of our failed attempt.

Amazingly, about a month ago we were contacted by the company in charge of our hospital’s maintenance to explain that after a series of events, the building was to start again soon with them personally managing the renovations. It never ceases to amaze me that we are filled with new hope every time we hear encouraging news. Despite all that is wrong with the systems we come into contact with, we are blessed with grace to find new hope again. Amazingly, after months of disappointment, the construction began again at the beginning of November and more has been done in the last month than in the three months prior to that. 

IMG_5685 IMG_5683

The permanent park homes are also almost complete providing space for five more people to live. They are large and have been constructed really well with solid tiled concrete floors. We are expecting many new arrivals in January and are looking forward to welcoming them to our Madwaleni family. In total we are hoping for two new community service doctors, and three medical officers starting next year, as well as up to nine new allied health workers. We are blessed to have so many new staff members arriving, while praying for rapid progression of the renovations to house all the new staff members. A happy problem!

The work of the Eastern Cape Health Crisis Coalition over the last months has had a huge positive impact on the hospital. The major victory this month has been the arrival of three CTG machines and four IVAC fluid monitors, following months of failed procurement attempts. Running a labour ward for months with no functioning CTGs or fetal doptones was a disheartening experience for the doctors and nurses, and we have loved the improvement in care that the CTGs have brought about. We all prefer the midnight caesar for fetal distress to the easily imaginable outcomes we were seeing before when we had no CTGs. We are currently waiting for the appropriate fluid giving sets to be able to use our IVACs, but I’m told our children in paediatrics are very excited to use them!

This was the first CTG machine delivered (a second hand one)

This was the first CTG machine delivered (a second hand one but well functioning). The other two arrived brand new a week later. Note the use of ‘pressure tape’ in securing this patient’s drip, known simply as masking tape to the rest of us.

The past few months have again been filled with beautiful weekends away and a little bit of “taking back Madwaleni”. We were inspired after Werner (a dutch man who contacted us through our blog) visited Madwaleni with pictures from his childhood when his father was the missionary doctor at the hospital in the 70’s. The hospital looked completely different then, we will post pictures of this in another blog post soon.

So the inspiration to clean up Madwaleni started with the tennis court. We worked one Saturday to rid the court of its weeds (although very tempting to convert it to a grass court), re-painting the lines and purchasing a new net.

A full day was dedicated to cleaning, sweeping and re-painting the tennis court lines. Sam watched from the corner.

A full day was dedicated to cleaning, sweeping and re-painting the tennis court lines. Sam watched from the corner.

Tennis court revamp 2

The efforts to fix the tennis court were celebrated with scones and orange juice.

The efforts to fix the tennis court were celebrated with scones and orange juice.

IMG_7825 IMG_7826

Another thing that needed fixing was the pipes, and so Dylan and Andrew set out to fix these pipes using all their creative Madwaleni-learnt tricks to do the job. This involved a gas cooker, a cereal box and a saw. After a few attempts, the result was good, only leaving a little bit of a spray still coming from the broken pipe.

Broken pipes

(These efforts were soon to be destroyed when the truck that had originally broken the pipes came back to that area for a friendly visit.)

Given our access to cheap fillet, we decided to embark on a little DIY and Andrew constructed a biltong maker. It was as the sun was starting to set one Sunday night that Andrew began this task, with drill in hand he started on the necessary holes, only one hole was drilled when the electricity went off (due to the generator having run out of fuel), leaving us without electricity (and therefore no water also as our water supply requires an electric pump). Nevertheless, a frustration saving battery powered drill was found and the job was completed using dowel sticks, a computer fan and a light bulb.

Biltong maker 1

After some logistical matters were sorted out, the biltong maker was complete and ready to be tested.

Biltong 2

We marinated our biltong over night and then hung it up with paperclips and put the biltong maker to work.

Three days later, the fillet had shrunk to about half of its original size but we were left with delicious home-made biltong.

IMG_8516

Another DIY project we embarked on was to clean up our patio and create something with the wooden pallet I had found lying around the hospital. It was Pinterest inspired and only took a few hours (of Andrew’s time) to complete.

Pallet 1

IMG_9064

We also harvested some of our carrots (that we mistakenly planted in February), they turned out very unique in shape but deliciously sweet to eat. We have enjoyed growing fresh basil, coriander and rocket for the second time this year.

IMG_8951 IMG_8953

The Gibsons have put some impressive effort into their garden and it is looking amazing:

IMG_5677 IMG_5682 IMG_5680 IMG_5681

IMG_5667

Inge too has had great success in her beautiful garden

The Lee-Jones hosted our first Masterchef inspired  “invention test” in August. The challenge was to make something that we had never made before using our Madwaleni pantry ingredients, to be shared for afternoon tea. It was a fun afternoon and we got to experience some delicious home-made experimental food delights.

Masterchef invention test challenge

As a new hospital CEO was appointed to Madwaleni, we had a high tea to thank and celebrate Mrs Pencil as she has carried the responsibility of acting hospital manager for more than two years despite being employed as nursing manager. She is a woman full of grace, excellent leadership, diplomacy and most of all a love for Madwaleni. She is still making a huge impact in her job as nursing manager.

The one and only Mrs Pencil

The one and only Mrs Pencil. We are so grateful for her.

Here are some pictures of our weekends away. We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful place.

Umngazi

Umngazi

Jade and Dyl Umngazi

IMG_8026 IMG_8027

Canoeing at Umngazi

Canoeing at Umngazi

Hole in the wall1

Hole in the wall

IMG_8380

Hole

Jane and Phil 1

We had a really wonderful visit from the Timberlakes in August

Jane and Phil 2

We took the ferry (above) and walked to Bulungula for the day. Joseph managed the 3km without needing to be picked up once.

Andrew and Dylan are currently in the process of applying for permanent posts at Madwaleni so that we can stay on next year. There are many factors preventing this process being a smooth one, and while one would hope that staying on at a hospital like Madwaleni would be easier than finding a new job, this has not been the case. While we are committed to staying at Madwaleni, we welcome your prayers with us as we hope that this is sorted out seamlessly.

I feel that we have learnt as much about rural healthcare in the past 11 months as we have about ourselves and what it means to live in a community. We see each other daily, we get frustrated with one another, love one another and most of all depend on one another more than we ever expected. Living in community has highlighted our flaws and our strengths, and challenged us to grow in areas we would never have anticipated. Living at Madwaleni is not only about the weekends away and the services we provide, but it has been a learning process where our preconceived ideas are challenged. It has provided me with the opportunity to learn more about Andrew this year than the previous two years we have been married and it has stripped us of all our support networks of family and church which we relied on more than we thought while we were living in Cape Town. It has forced us to seek after a genuine relationship with Jesus as we are stripped of the corporate faith of church. It has been challenging, wonderful and most of all life-changing. And this feels like it is just the beginning because we are far from where I hope to be when we are called away from Madwaleni. I hope for our time to come to be more focussed on extending our community across cultural barriers; learning to understand and forge true friendships with people who are culturally and socio-economically so different from myself. There is a richness in the people who live in this area that I haven’t yet begun to understand.

IMG_8025

As I have described our community here at Madwaleni, we are sadly saying goodbye to Scott and Sarah Lee-Jones at the end of this year. We are very sad to see them go, but pray that Gods richest blessings will be upon them into the future. They have been a big part of our Madwaleni family and we will miss them very much. We have learnt to rely so heavily on everyone in our community, the hole they will leave in the hospital when they go will be difficult to fill.

We will miss you Lee-Joneses

We will miss you Lee-Joneses.

  – Katy (and Andrew)

Winter at Madwaleni

It’s been a while since we last posted anything on the blog, it has been both a rewarding and somewhat challenging winter. There have also been a few changes and some great experiences in the last month:

– Two of us housewives, Sarah and I, have taken a break from home made jams and fresh bread, and are working. Sarah started volunteering for the Donald Woods Foundation in July, getting involved in their health in every hut program. My occupational therapy post finally came through after six months of waiting. After being told that actually the post now no longer existed at Madwaleni, a miraculous turn of events resulted in an about turn from the government administration. Between the efforts of Mrs Pencil and Inge my post was finalised and I started working on the 20th of June. It has been quite an adjustment from being a full time housewife to working a full day, but I am really loving the work and finding lots of joy in it.

– Sam put his toes in the sea water for the first time:

Sam at the beach

– We cooked and ate crayfish for the first time

crayfish

– We have been experimenting with a diet consisting primarily of pancakes:

The one with the pancakes

The renovations are still under way and the hospital accommodation area looks more like a construction site everyday. About a month ago, we were informed that five permanent park homes were going to be assembled as extra accommodation. We had a look at the plans, which looked like really great structures that could house staff comfortably, and so we set out to find the land for these park homes. We located the two areas of land that we saw to be most appropriate and the digger arrived to clear the land for the concrete foundations on which the park homes are assembled. They have been clearing land for the past three weeks, by now that familiar beeping of a truck reversing has become part of our lives and we barely notice it any more.

We have all come to the conclusion this year that our tap water is unsafe for drinking and have been drinking the rain water that collects in green Jojo tanks beside our houses. Unfortunately it has been a very dry winter which has meant our rainwater supply has been minimal. On top of this the piped water system involves a complicated and poorly maintained water pump at the river and a leaking water purification system which often runs out of the necessary chemicals. With no one employed to manage this system (the municipality says the hospital must run it, and the hospital has no one qualified) we have had endless problems with a very unreliable service affecting both our homes and the hospital. This of course has been worsened by our empty rainwater tanks.

Andrew thought in coming to Madwaleni that the medicine would be difficult and that his skills as a doctor would be challenged, however we are realising, along with everyone else, that being a doctor here is only a portion of the responsibility. In the last few weeks Andrew has doubled as a plumber, procurement officer and together with Sarah, a construction site manager.  If it wasn’t enough that the water pump has been giving major problems, in the process of clearing the land for the park homes, the digger has successfully dug up areas of piping on five separate occasions. Each time the plumber from Mthatha has had to be organised to come through and fix the pipes, some times more successfully than others. Over the last three weeks we have had more days without water than with it. It has been a somewhat humbling experience as we have a little insight into the lives of our patients who have to collect water for their homes daily. I have been blown away by Nobuntu who cleans our house, as she still makes our house spotless with not a drop of water from the taps. She copes much better with it all than I do.

Nevertheless, the destroyed pipes and the lack of water were all bearable as we had really nice permanent park homes to look forward to. Unfortunately, we were informed by central administration this week that there are different plans for the staff accommodation and that the permanent park homes should never have been approved and are therefore being cancelled. The digger has now left. The pipes are still broken.

Currently renovations to the garages and two houses outside the property are in full swing, albeit taking slightly longer than anticipated. The builders are working long hours and every weekend and we are seeing progress. We are excited about the new accommodation and what it means for the staff at Madwaleni.

renovations 1

Following the renovations to the garages (which are slowly becoming cosy one bedroomed cottages with beautiful views) all of our houses will be renovated with new kitchens, bathrooms and cupboards.

renovations 2

In between the busyness of hospital life, we have had beautiful weekends away where the sun has been shining and the water the perfect temperature. It has been wonderful to have visitors again and we have had some very special times showing our visitors where we live. Andrew and Clare Kerr visited us in June and we had a great time away at Hole In The Wall.

sunset 1

IMG_7696IMG_7710Andrew_clare1

Flowers

hole in the wall 1

hole in the wall 2

Gibsons

Jet and YmkeGoats

We would appreciate prayers for the ongoing building at Madwaleni and all the associated admin. We are continually reminded of our need for God, and humbled by his faithfulness in the every day stresses of our lives. We have felt very encouraged by friends and family back home, thank you all for your support. God bless

– Katy (and a little bit of Andrew, the best bits)

Seven Reasons To Come To The Transkei

We have been blessed with beautiful weather, picturesque moments and lots of visitors recently. We have just had Andrews brother Duncan visiting which was great fun. Since community service applications are coming up, we thought we would share some good reasons to come work (or visit) in the Transkei (in no particular order).

(Click on the pictures for a larger view)

1. Cheap Fillet

Kate and Andrew Westwood visited us in May. We had a lovely time sharing our rural lives with them. We celebrated their arrival with a fillet braai as we have recently discovered Elliotdale Spar sells fillet for R60/kg.

A fillet feast

A fillet feast

2. Beautiful Weekends Away

We took the Westwoods to one of our favourite spots, Hluleka, we had amazing blue skies and spent three fun days on the beach.

IMG

PicMonkey Collage 18

The amazing accommodation at Hluleka

PicMonkey Collage 19

Round of golf on the beach anyone?

Round of golf on the beach anyone?

PicMonkey Collage21

The Gibson’s, Lee-Jones’ and Miller’s went to Zithulele Hospital for a braai in May. This was followed by a stay at nearby Lubanzi backpackers for a night.

PicMonkey Collage5

3. Beautiful scenery on your doorstep

The wild coast is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places, and it gets better in winter!

IMG_6

PicMonkey Collage 8

IMG_7

IMG_7151

IMG_7128

IMG_7228

A short walk from the hospital led to these amazing views last week.IMG_7321

IMG_7332

IMG_7333

IMG_7338

4. Amazing people to learn from and share life with.

We have a fun and growing community at Madwaleni. We are learning what it means to share life together which is both a rewarding and growing experience. We have also found that the community has been welcoming of us and have grown to enjoy what we have learnt is the affectionate calling from children shouting “mlungu mlungu” as they see us. We have been amazed and challenged at the distances people walk to get to the hospital and the lives that they live which are so far removed from our city life experience.

PicMonkey Collage 11PicMonkey Collage9

Celebrating Sarah's Birthday

Celebrating Sarah’s Birthday

PicMonkey Collage 16

PicMonkey Collage 12

It is such a joy having visitors, we have been amazed at the effort that our friends and families have made to visit us and share in our rural lives despite the less than optimal roads and distances to get to us.

5. The work

The work is challenging at times but also very rewarding. Even though the hospital is very limited in its resources, the needs of the community are much greater than the limits of the hospital and so the services provided make a significant impact. Here are some pics of inside the hospital, the building itself however isn’t what attracted us to Madwaleni, it is the people who fill the building.

PicMonkey Collage22 PicMonkey Collage 21

IMG_20130102_172549

Hospital OPD and general wards

6. You can dabble in gardening, baking, jam preservation, gingerbeer making or anything else that might float your goat.

Sarah's veggies

Sarah’s veggies

Jet and Ymke made us "Bouterkoek"

Jet and Ymke made us “Boterkoek”

PicMonkey Collage 14

7. It is encouraging and challenging to see children playing with soccer balls made of plastic packets. There is definitely more to be gained by living here than we could ever give back.

IMG5-Katy

A Photo Blog Update

I haven’t shared pictures since February, and now it is May. I can’t believe it, time is flying! So here are a few pictures of what we have been up to, where we have been and who we’ve been with.

One of the challenges our doctors face is the transport for cases that need to be transferred to a different facility (usually Nelson Mandela Hospital in Mthatha). Organising ambulances and patient transport vehicles is frustrating and often unsuccessful due to the disorganisation of the ambulance service. It was a happy day for Madwaleni when Andrew managed to organise a helicopter transfer for a premature newborn weighing less than 1kg. This was significant as, as to our knowledge, this was the first time a helicopter had transferred a patient from Madwaleni for more than a year. The actual arrival of the helicopter was after many hours of fighting with ambulances and the relevant personnel, however as it landed, the community seemed to arrive with it. Suddenly there were school children out of school and patients out of bed to see this momentous occasion. Here are a few pictures depicting this exciting event. Subsequent to this, there have been two more successful helicopter transfers.

IMG_6386

IMG_6373

The school children taking every opportunity to get as close as possible to the helicopter or affectionately referred to as the "air baloon"

The school children taking every opportunity to get as close as possible to the helicopter.

The baby being transferred from the ward to the helicopter

The baby being transferred from the ward to the helicopter

Helicopter leaving  Madwaleni

The helicopter leaving Madwaleni.

It was a few days before Jet and Mark’s baby was due and Jet decided she was desperate to go into labour and so thought it best to do a little exercise, however Mark was on call so Andrew and I took her for a walk at the closest beach. We made sure she skipped and hopped as much as possible and even climbed a hill or two. Andrew and I would like to believe that it was because of this that she went into labour the next night and beautiful Ymke was born on Jet’s birthday. Here are some pictures of our walk.

IMG_6355

IMG_6349

Who knew that 4.3kg’s was bundled up in there!

We came across this rather cute couple

We came across this rather cute couple

From time to time the water supply at various or all of the houses stops running. This time it was the Gibson’s and Jade arrived on my doorstep on day two of no water desperate for a shower and to bath Sam. I welcomed her only to realise that we don’t have a bath and I’ve heard it’s not such a good idea to put babies in showers. I also realised that we don’t have an appropriate sized bucket for this purpose either. Somehow the only option we were left with was to use our cooler box. Here are some pictures capturing the sweet moment of Jade bathing her two month old Sam in a cooler box.

IMG_6511

IMG_6508

Sam seems quite content and unaware of the change in scenery

IMG_6501

Andrew and I celebrated our anniversary with a weekend trip to Umngazi. It was such a wonderful time where we splashed around in the warm water, canoed, played beach bats and diving catches in the lagoon.

We took the canoe out for a paddle

IMG_6479

Some of the local children joined us for some fun, Andrew taught this girl how to make a mud ball which they then proceeded to throw at her siblings. Kept us all busy for hours!

Some of the local children joined us for some fun, Andrew taught this girl how to make a mud ball the size of a bowling ball, which they then proceeded to throw at her siblings.

Each chalet has an outdoor shower, this is the view from ours

Each chalet has an outdoor shower, this was the view from ours.

Beautiful sunset

Beautiful sunset over the lagoon.

I had an amazing surprise visit from my folks who arrived on my doorstep the day before my birthday! We had a really wonderful weekend with them and I was totally spoilt!

Mom and Dad Mobbs

Mom and Dad Mobbs

It was very special to show them our lives here at Madwaleni, so despite the weather being rather miserable, we decided to take my folks to The Haven for lunch, but on our way home, we ran into a little mud. Two young local boys and their mother saw that we were stuck and immediately came to help. They were there with their spades and lots of energy and we were out in no time.

IMG_20130324_165726

Although, I think a little concerned, Mom and Dad Mobbs did well on the side of the road. Although, I think a little concerned, Mom and Dad Mobbs did well cheering the rescue team on!

Living in the bush means that you get spoilt with really special handmade birthday presents from your fellow bush wives.

Jet and Mark made me these amazing garden tags, carved out of wood and then painted and custom labeled for our garden.

Jet and Mark made me these amazing garden tags, carved out of wood and then painted and custom labeled.

Jade made me this amazing doorstop for me :)

Jade made me this gorgeous doorstop. 

-Katy

The Chronicles of Madwaleni Housing

Since arriving at Madwaleni, there have been many stresses about our accommodation,  the surrounding area has no accommodation with running water and electricity for doctors and other staff members to rent. Thus in a place like this, it is the hospital’s responsibility to provide accommodation. One of our biggest stresses this year has been the lack of accommodation for current doctors let alone enough accommodation should all the posts in the hospital be filled. In the midst of this, we have been amazed by God’s provision, yet again and so we thought we would give you an account of what’s been happening at Madwaleni. 

1st January: Lee-Joneses wind up in a temporary park home, Gibson’s have a house that smells like cat wee, Miller’s have a house full of junk and a fridge full of old food, Mark and Jet have a house surrounded by the smelliest birds alive.

The Miller's Kitchen

The Miller’s Kitchen

The Lee-Joneses Parkhome

The Lee-Joneses park home

13th February: The Eastern Cape MEC of Health arrives with his entourage who were welcomed generously by the hospital staff. Literally, there were some nurses dressed up as drum majorettes (with a broken drum mind you.) The minor maintenance team appeared from nowhere and started to work on some sewage, which is quite accurately way beyond their normal scope of practice. Someone found the tennis court net, holes and all, and put it up proudly as if Wimbledon was about to start on the cracked cement tennis court disguised with a covering of grass. The hospital bakkie that had recently been intimately acquainted with a horse was tucked out of sight. To top it off an ambulance made its debut appearance parked outside the hospital, although blatantly informed the doctors that their primary function was to park in full view of the MEC and not to transport sick patients.

The drum majorettes

The drum majorettes

The bakkie that fought for space on the road with horse conveniently hidden behind a tree

The bakkie conveniently hidden behind a tree.

On a more positive note, the entourage included some influential people who listened to our concerns about doctors’ accommodation and set out to meet our needs. Our concerns were primarily that the Lee-Joneses needed a permanent house and we needed accommodation for future doctors. By the time they had left, five park homes had been ordered and a meeting had been arranged with surveyors, architects and contractors for the following week. Although pessimistic about the promises made, there was a sense of hope and anticipation.

28th February: Despite being a week late, the meeting actually happened! A party of roughly 20 people with various roles in government construction toured the hospital grounds inspecting all houses and possible accommodation options. Chatting to Rob (from the construction company) we realised how miraculous this all was, as he informed us of how contrasting this was with his previous experiences with government. Somehow strings had been pulled and loopholes been found such that we were now in a position where usual government bureaucracy was not a limiting factor. We would not have to wait for frustrating paperwork and tender processes, the contractors were already in agreement with the government. The minister of one of the local churches was also present, as the hospital board had been in contact with him to discuss the possibility of using church accommodation that had historically been part of the mission hospital. The minister decided that he would like these houses to be renovated for use by the doctors.  The group of people toured the houses where they decided that all the accommodation needed to be renovated, including our existing accommodation, with new kitchens, bathrooms, flooring and all roofs fixed and painted.

1st March: The architects arrived and measured all the houses in order to draw up new plans. They agreed to present their plans the following week.

7th March: The meeting where the architects were to present their plans did not happen, however the roofing company arrived and started work immediately. They were efficient and hard working and we now have shiny red roofs.  

IMG_6442

9th March: One of the five park-homes arrived late Saturday afternoon. This took us by surprise, however it has been an amazing blessing, as our new doctor recently arrived and has been able to move in here.

The parkhome being delivered.

The park home being delivered.

14th March: This time, Gift (who we believe to truly be a gift from God who is managing the renovations) arrived with Rob with existing plans of the houses drawn up. We had a late afternoon meeting that ended well after their working hours, where we discussed possible changes to be made to each house. This was a phenomenal meeting where our expectations were exceeded while Gift and Rob saw the best ways to meet all our needs (and wishes). By the end of this meeting our spirits were high as we reflected on how in coming here all that we had hoped for was to have a brick house and now God was exceeding those expectations and blessing us with newly renovated homes.

The meeting where we discussed the plans

The meeting where we discussed the plans

3rd April: Gift and Rob were back after-hours to present the new plans and have them signed off, with the promise of building starting in the next few weeks. The hope being that the renovations would take a maximum of four months from when they begin. Ultimately the renovations will mean that there will be sufficient, good quality accommodation for the number of doctors’ posts available at the hospital.

At this point we are awaiting the arrival of contractors who should be here within the next week. We are cautiously optimistic and learning to be faithfully reliant that the process will continue as smoothly as it has been up until this point. We want to say thank you to all of you who are praying for us as this is clearly an answer to prayer, please keep praying that things will continue to go according to plan. Updates on the chronicles of Madwaleni housing to follow soon.

– Jade and Katy

February in Pictures

February has been quite an eventful time. For us Millers, it has been filled with food adventures, weekends away and developing green fingers. Here are a few pictures of our last month.

Having people over for burgers in the bush takes on new meaning when you realise you need to make the rolls of scratch for the event...

Having people over for burgers in the bush takes on new meaning when you realise you need to make the rolls from scratch for the event.

Our ever faithful breadmaker is almost as essential to us as our fridge...being able to have fresh bread most days is a real treat!

Our ever faithful bread maker is almost as essential to us as our fridge. Being able to have fresh bread most days is a real treat!

The doctors have been working incedibly hard (there are only four of them doing calls which means they are on call every second night) As the walk to the hospital from home is in the pitch dark through waist high grass, most often ending up in maternity ward, Andrew has found this is the way to face the calls.

The doctors have been working incredibly hard (there are only four of them doing calls which means they are on call every second night). As the walk to the hospital from home is in the pitch dark through waist high grass, often ending up in maternity ward, Andrew has found this is the most effective way to face it all.

It's a short (slightly bundu-bashing) drive to the closest beach where we take opportunities to sneak a late afternoon walk and swim whenever we can

It’s a short (slightly rough) drive to the closest beach where we take opportunities to sneak in a late afternoon walk and swim whenever we can.

My lovely friends and wives club

My lovely wives club (missing Jet who now makes wives club complete)

IMG_5954

IMG_5958

IMG_5971

Peanut and Puzzle

Peanut and Puzzle

The most beautiful swim I have ever had (despite the glimpses of fear at the possibility of a hungry shark munching on us)

The most beautiful swim I have ever had.

Andrew has been hard at work in our garden for the past month. We are starting to see the fruits of his hard work in some of our herbs and veggies that are sprouting up. The rain does wonders for our plants here and they seem to grow overnight when it has been raining. Unfortunately whenever it rains we also lose all internet connection. It is a tough one to weigh up.

And so our gardening adventures continue

And so our gardening adventures continue.

Andrew worked long and hard until the sun had set pulling weeds from our soon-to-be veggie patch

Andrew worked long and hard until the sun had set, pulling tree-weeds from our soon to be veggie patch.

IMG_6009

Sometimes, our tools were...well... children's toys

Sometimes our tools were, well, children’s toys.

Our patch of garden ready for planting

Our patch of garden (mostly) ready for planting

Now four weeks later, along with carefully cultivating a whole new crop of weeds, we also have:

Wild rocket

Wild rocket

Corriander

Coriander

Baby leaf spinach

Baby leaf spinach

Mielies

Mielies

Basil

Basil

Green Beans

Green Beans

Over the weekend of the 14-19th February, the Andrew’s parents came to visit us. We had a wonderful long weekend with a braai and a pizza evening at Madwaleni and a lovely two nights away at Hluleka Nature Reserve (with arguably the most beautiful, deserted beach we’ve seen). Here are some pictures of our weekend with them.

Hluleka

Hluleka accommodation

The lounge and view from the balcony

The lounge and view from the balcony at Hluleka

Hluleke beach

Hluleka beach

IMG_6032

IMG_6047

IMG_6062

IMG_6091

Getting the opportunity to show off our home and the beautiful area we live in to the Millers was fun.

The surrounds of Madwaleni

The view not so far from the hospital

IMG_6115

It's hard to tell if this is a smack across the face or a 'love-tap" either way Charlie is enjoying it!

It’s hard to tell if this is a smack across the face or a ‘love-tap”. Either way Charlie is enjoying it!

IMG_6117

Mufasa...

Mufasa.

IMG_6127

IMG_6137

IMG_6146

IMG_6157

We also enjoyed a weekend away with the Lee-Jones at Hole in the Wall. We stayed in a quirky holiday house on a rolling hill just above the beach.

Hole in the Wall with the Lee-Joneses

Hole in the Wall with the Lee-Joneses

IMG_6189

IMG_6176

IMG_6200

IMG_6210

Strange miniature furniture in the house at Hole in the Wall

Strange miniature furniture in the house at Hole in the Wall

A photo shoot with the miniature furniture

Sarah trying to find a use for the furniture.

Sunset and braai at Hole in the Wall

Sunset and braai at Hole in the Wall

We still wholeheartedly believe we live in the most beautiful part of South Africa.

-Katy