These women are part of a volunteer programme. They go to run down public hospitals and give out sandwiches, fruit and juice to poor people who have to wait there for almost the entire day. Now you first have to understand the health care system in South Africa to appreciate what I am saying here. You see unlike in many other countries, South Africa has public hospitals and private hospitals. The private hospitals are clean and well staffed. Patients get seen to easily and relatively quickly. Equipment is new and so on. But the people who go there usually pay large sums of money or they have medical aid schemes, which amount to large sums of money in the end of the day. Majority of the people in this country are unable to afford going to a private hospital, so they have to settle for public hospitals, which are mainly older, less people working there, much more patients, older and less equipment, dull looking and cold, no televisions in the wards (like the private hospitals), no private wards and so on. Here people have to wait for hours on end to be treated because there are just too many patients and too little staff and supplies. The situation is unjust and totally unequal, but this is South Africa after all, a country which has one of the widest gaps between those who have and those who don’t.So back to these inspiring ladies- They are part of this project, called the Faith Based Initiative. People from different religious groups take turns to go to the public hospitals and hand out sandwiches and stuff to people. I got to go with the ladies today and although I was very saddened by the patients situations, it was definitely a worthwhile experience.
As we walked from ward to ward handing out food and sweets (to little kids), I could see that these ladies were passionate about this. They were so compassionate and caring that it moved me, and really people were so grateful to get something to eat while they waited in the cold hospital, anxious , tired and sick.
Some of the patients are AIDS patients, this includes kids, and as one of the hospital staff explained to me, these people are on ARV’S (anti retrovirals) and they need to eat in order for the medication to be effective, but some of them are so poor that they have no food to eat for days, so for them, to get a sandwich from someone is a big deal. Some parents don’t know what they’ll feed their sick kids when they get home, so they are glad to get a sandwich and some fruit.
It’s amazing how much we take for granted. A few slices of bread can make such a huge difference to people, and for us this is nothing. Our houses are full of food and we still say that we have nothing to give and nothing to make. There are people who value two slices of bread so much, and I am so grateful that I got to witness this first hand.
One of the women waiting with her kids asked me, “where is this coming from”, when I explained that people have donated it, she said to me “this is such a good thing, we appreciate it”. Indeed I really had to agree with her.
These volunteers are so dedicated; every week they go out and share a little of their time to help others. Their small effort makes a huge difference, even if they don’t always know it. I am inspired by these women, inspired by their willingness to help with no physical, material reward; Inspired by their warmth, inspired that they don’t only think about themselves, but have remembered others as well. I pray that Allah rewards them all well, and that Allah gives them strength to continue doing this. Inshaa-Allah Ameen.
There are so many things to do in this world, if we only take the time to look around we will see that we are able to make huge differences by doing small things.Image from here