Posted by: Philip Carr-Gomm | October 31, 2011

Singing in the Chaos

The son of a friend of ours is working as a doctor in a small hospital in South Africa. He’s writing a blog that gives a vivid impression of what it’s like to be living and working there – the tragedy and the beauty of it too.  He starts off:
Just for a little orientation: I am working as a “Level 1 Medical Officer” at the Holy Cross Hospital, which is 20km outside the small and chaotic town of Flagstaff in the Eastern Cape Province. We’re situated about 40km from the coast, referred to locally as “the wild coast” for its sheer beauty and isolation. Holy Cross was set up in 1923 by some philanthropic missionaries. In the past decade it has undergone a massive rebuild and looks very modern and glam. Unfortunately, for what is has in glitz, it lacks in numbers of doctors and well trained clinical staff. The hospital has about 450 beds, but only around 250 to 300 are currently active…
He then zooms in to describe life working there, finishing his first post by saying:
It’s not all chaos and pandemonium though. One of the most enchanting aspects of working here is the singing. Most mornings and occasionally at lunchtime you’ll see and hear the hospital staff standing around and singing gospel anthems. Now, maybe they should be attending to their clinical/clerical/whatever duties, but oh it is lovely and gives some light to the bedlam. For example, while there was a lull in casualty last Saturday evening the nurses all started singing. For the few minutes that it lasted, it gave me time to reflect on the day and take in all that had shot past. Luckily, there was an abscence of gun shot wounds that evening.
I’m not working this weekend, so maybe I’ll be able to explore some of the local surroundings.
Just one more thing, in answer to the statement that so many people posed before I left: “Wow, that’ll be an amazing experience “– I think you were right, it’s already turning out to be that. So, do you want to have an “amazing experience” too? As I mentioned earlier, the Holy Cross is in desperate need of more doctors, dentists, physios, dieticians, OT’s. Get involved and go tell the people at AHP (African Health Placements) that you want a job here… Read more

Responses

  1. Sounds very much like “home” to me Phillip. Great that Dom seems to be keeping perspective and his sense of appreciation and I wish him all the best. Africa is indeed not for sissies and a great adventure for the worthy.


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