There is a great deal of beauty at the farm where we have been staying on the banks of the Vaal River outside of Parys.  A dear friend has allowed us to stay at the family farm, which has 5 bedrooms, for FREE!! That price is RIGHT.  We are surrounded by “mountains” (sorry, by Colorado standards they are really the beginning of the foothills) which do NOT allow cellphone or WiFi/wireless internet access.  So after getting up at 6 a.m. then working HARD all day, we have to find those snatches of time while in the van on rough and bumpy roads to get internetting done.  It has been a nice challenge working on laptop as the driver stomps on brakes, careens around corners and takes us along the gravel roads.

So, a few mysteries for those who were wondering. The delayed luggage made it to Johannesburg for the team to pick up at the Johannesburg airport on the way out of town.  Our wayward team member who was stranded in Washington, D.C. had to eventually fly to New York to get to Johannesburg. NO thanks to South Africa or United Airlines for NOT accomodating her for hotel or food voucher during the 2 day inflicted lay-over (you might remember she missed her connecting in D.C. on Thursday due to weather getting out of Austin.  She arrived Sunday and our S. African friend made the 1.5 hour trip (one-way) to pick her up and then bring her to our work site.  (YES, we worked on Sunday — at an old folks home).   In South Africa, each province is resourced differently for hearing aids.  The Free State Province seems to be about 2 years back-logged in getting hearing aids to patients due to some bureaucratic hang-ups.  So, the residents at the Old Folks Home were quite happy to see us.

We’ve been spending Monday, yesterday and now today working in the Creches (i.e. Preschools).  There is government subsidy for Preschools and Daycare facilities as well as subsidy for the parents of the children enrolled.  Some of the preschools have 15 enrollees while others have 100+. Some have NO resources are are strictly warehousing the children without any enrichment or teaching. The children just sit and sleep while they are being “cared for”.  BUT, there are others that are doing great jobs with the children.  Our goal has been set to see 20 schools – as of yesterday we went to 11 schools and saw 258 children.  There have been a great many with impacted earwax, and surprisingly only a few with full blown, red hot otitis media.  We seem to have our rhythm down at this stage and we we see how far we get with the remaining schools.  The township where we spend our time has a range of income levels and there is a nice correlation between the income level and general health of the children.  After our work today, we will leave the Vaal River and spend 7+ hours on the road (leaving at 6 a.m.) for Hazyview in the Mpumalanga Province.  Our program will change yet again. Afterall, TIA – it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t have multiple plans in place.

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