RURAL HEALTHCARE AND HIV/AIDS AWARENESS
Contribute to a better quality of life with healthcare assistance to those who do not have the means or medical resources. Whether you are a trained professional or just interested in exploring your interest in healthcare, you will provide vital community support while soaking in the beautiful landscapes and wildlife of rural South Africa.
St. Lucia is a small, malaria-free tourist town on the North East Coast of South Africa, surrounded by rural African villages. It is the only town in the world to be surrounded by a World heritage site – the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
With the Indian Ocean and Big 5 game reserves all around, amazing wildlife can be found everywhere! It remains warm all year round, attracts Whales along the coast from June – November and is even a prime location to go and watch turtles hatching on the beach (November – March)!
Three rural villages inhabited by approximately 70,000 people show another side of life just a short drive away from the renowned tourist town of St. Lucia. Rural Zululand is a remote and beautiful area, though being one of the poorer regions in South Africa, many of the local children are in desperate need of education and care.
Volunteers reside at our large, comfortable, fully furnished volunteer house situated in the middle of St. Lucia in a very safe residential area. It is right on the town’s main street and 30 min walk to the beautiful beach and estuary. The house is equipped with a lounge, barbecue (braai) area, tropical garden and swimming pool.
During the week, three delicious meals a day will be provided and cooked by chefs from the local community. We can cater for most dietary requirements, but please do let us know beforehand. At weekends, most volunteers visit the local cafes and restaurants in St Lucia. You are welcome to purchase food from the local shops and make use of the kitchen facilities if you’d prefer.
Complimentary WiFi is available in the volunteer house for you to keep in touch with family and friends back home.
St. Lucia has a mild, and generally warm and temperate climate. Rainfall is present all year round, with the months of June, July and August having the lowest chance of rain. St Lucia’s summer season (November – February) receives the highest rainfall as well as highest temperatures. At an average temperature of 25.2°C (77.4°F), January is the hottest month of the year, while July is the coolest month of the year with an average temperature or 17.5 °C (63.5 °F).
PROJECT IMPACT AREAS
Local clinics are the first point of call for many ailing individuals and are predominantly run by nurses with doctors visiting once a month. There are several departments, including outpatients for adults and children, HIV and TB services, pharmacy and maternity but these can be severely overcrowded. Volunteers are a huge help, freeing up nurses to consult and treat patients. Volunteers man the intake desk, take blood pressure, weigh patients and direct them to the correct departments. On a weekly basis our Volunteers can see and help the clinic with as many as 220 patients.
Unfortunately, not all patients are able to get themselves to the local medical clinic or natural health clinic. Volunteers form part of their support system and help pick them up from their homes and drop them off at local clinics. This ensures that people get access to vital medical health care services. On a monthly basis we help on average 26 people get to the local medical clinic and 20 people get to the natural health clinic.
Home-based care has brought hope to the lives of many people in the villages of Khula and Eswenalisha by increasing access to provisional healthcare. Alongside local caregivers, volunteers visit homes in these communities to support chronically ill or injured patients that are too sick or poor to get to the clinics. Other duties include tracking progress and assisting in administering a nutrition program to malnourished individuals – many with Tuberculosis and HIV. This can be challenging and confronting at first, it is however a wonderful chance to establish a deep relationship with those often-forgotten members of the community.
Each week volunteers will be given the opportunity to become involved in community support groups. As part of this upliftment project, volunteers help deliver basic health, lifestyle and nutrition information to a group of adults of all ages. As a volunteer you can encourage the group to seek out positive lifestyle habits and to support each other and their community.
To help encourage positive and healthy living, volunteers also assist in creating and maintaining vegetable gardens for community members in need. Those not only supply local community members with much-needed healthy food, it also encourages them to be more self-sufficient. 25% of the vegetables harvested in these gardens also provide much-needed extra nutrition to the at risk, malnourished medical patients.
Some of our patients on Home Based Care and Family Empowerment Program are also in need of additional assistance in their homes. The people we help may be elderly, very unwell or disabled. This is an incredibly rewarding project for all involved, providing support to that makes a difference to patients’ day-to-day lives. Our assistance depends on the individual needs of the family but could include helping with moving those that are infirm, cleaning, washing clothes, carrying out house repairs and building / maintaining gardens. Community buildings in the local villages can be run down, particularly in more rural areas. This project has succeeded in refurbishing community building such as day care centres that are in desperate need of repair.
Explore one or more of the nearby game reserves, home to Africa’s iconic wildlife including, lion, rhino and elephant. A popular trip is a full day game drive at Hluhluwe-iMfolozi National Park or a luxury overnight safari experience at Thanda Private Game Reserve.
St Lucia is home to the highest concentrations of Hippos and Nile crocodiles in Southern Africa with approximately 1,200 Nile Crocodiles and 800 Hippos! It’s not uncommon to see the hippos wondering about the streets at night eating the grass. At the weekend, we recommend every volunteer joins the iconic 2-hour boat cruise down the St Lucia Estuary to see hippos and crocodiles and learn about the different estuarine birds while watching a beautiful African sunset.
The warm Indian ocean and golden sandy beaches are just a short walk from the volunteer house. Enjoy the KwaZulu-Natal coastline by spending a morning at the beach or go whale-watching in season (June to November). Alongside gigantic humpback whales, dolphins, sharks and turtles are often seen on the three-hour tour.
Once you have submitted your application, a Destination Specialist will be in-touch to discuss the project with you.