“No one likes needles. But during one of the Family Health Day programs, I decided to lead by example and volunteered to get my blood tests done for hepatitis C. I joined the queue and waited for George Zozi, a fellow Rotarian and a qualified pathologist, to give me the jab. Suddenly, I felt a tap on my shoulder and to my surprise, it was a little girl holding out her hand to help me stay calm. She stood there, holding my hand until the test was completed.”
Nothing can ever warm your heart quite like an act of kindness, and this little one left a lasting impact on my mind and earned a special place in my heart.
Rotary Family Health Day sites are the epicentre of many such beautiful stories. When I think about all my memories of the Health Day program, the African word ‘ubuntu’ comes to my mind. It means ‘humanity to others’ and is described as 'I am what I am because of who we all are'. I can now say that I have firsthand experience of feeling this.
I have been actively involved at the RFHD sites since 2013, and each year brought an amazing sense of fulfilment to my life. I strongly believe that providing affordable healthcare and bringing hope to someone’s life is a great deed, and Rotary has been instrumental in achieving this goal for many years.
The National Launch in Rustenburg
As a Rotarian, I feel the highlight of my journey has been being the site champion at the national launch in Rustenburg in 2016. This site was an open piece of land surrounded by houses, situated in a poor rural neighbourhood with no easy access to medical facilities. The whole experience was challenging, yet beautiful. We had dignitaries like the First Lady, Madam Bongi Ngema-Zuma, the beloved late Royal Majesty, Queen Mother Semane Bonolo Molotlegi and Deputy Minister Mathume Joseph Phaahla at the program.
The program was a huge success, and it would not have been possible without help from The Boitekong Progressive Youth group. This exceptional group of young people not only helped to set up the pop-up medical facility at the site, but also helped the Rotarians with running awareness programs and monitoring clients. They also helped disabled people in commuting to the site for their treatment. Some of these wonderful humans still assist the Rotary Club of Rustenburg with other projects, and some remain good friends. The best part was that we, the Rotarians, felt like we were also a part of the local community for these three days.
Another delightful experience I remember was when we partnered with the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). Neglected and abandoned, there were many dogs in some of the rural areas who needed our attention. With the help of the SPCA, we managed to give deworming tablets and a nice warm flea dip to all the dogs in the neighbourhood. Extending our help to our four-legged friends brought tears of joy to my eyes.
Addressing Mental Health Issues
The process of helping a human being find hope can sometimes be heart-breaking, but at the end, it helps one feel content. During the time of mining strikes and retrenchments in the greater Rustenburg area, we realized the importance of and need for a mental health program in the community. With the support from Rotarian Dr. Amanda Agathagelou and the South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), we helped many people who were suffering, but who had avoided seeking treatment because of the stigma surrounding mental health issues.
To sum it all up, I will say that — despite the harsh and hot weather conditions in October — I have seen mothers standing in queues with their strikingly bright umbrellas, carrying their babies on their back; children running around the site location with their homemade wire cars. You cannot help but marvel at their DIY talent and their creative skills. The atmosphere, overall, is inspiring and encouraging. Medical professionals, nurses, sponsors and volunteers are busy tirelessly serving the people, with a never-fading smile on their faces.
The Rotary Family Health Days have helped bring a ray of hope into the lives of many and it has been a gratifying experience being a part of this journey. It is great to see the satisfaction on the faces of the people when they realize that they, too, have the right to live a healthy life.Share