A few weeks ago I had the privilege of traveling to Cape Town, South Africa, on behalf of St. Petersburg College (SPC). The purpose of the trip was to see if Cape Town would make a good site for a study abroad opportunity for SPC students, and to visit two clinics there to determine if they would could provide a good service learning opportunity for our students in the Health Services Administration (HSA) program, and possibly other health programs. I was also fortunate enough to be able to travel with Dr. Donna Ettel, who is a faculty member in the HSA program.
I was very impressed with Cape Town. The people were very friendly, and as I hope a few of my pictures show, the country is beautiful. It’s unfortunate that my weak skills in photography don’t do the area justice. It is also one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world, with over 11 languages and dialects spoken in Cape Town alone. They also have one of the widest varieties of plant life in the world.
But nice people and beautiful scenery aside, perhaps the most impressive thing I saw while in South Africa were the clinics I visited. Cape Town, like many large cities, is a study in contrast. While it is a modern, affluent and beautiful city, it also suffers from areas of intense poverty unlike any I have seen. I was very impressed with the work that the two clinics we visited do to help to alleviate the impact of such poverty.
The first clinic was SHAWCO. SHAWCO is comprised of student volunteers who are medical students from around the world. They offer free medical clinics to people of all ages in the heart of the poorest areas. The work they do is incredible.
The second site we visited was PEEBLES. PEEBLES is a diverse agency that offers thousands of migrant workers, including hundreds of children, an incredible array of services, from a medical and dental clinic, to child care, to social services and skills training, to nutritional support. The scope of services they offer is too long to list here, but the impact they have is immeasurable.
I can’t wait for our students to have an opportunity to see this beautiful area, meet the wonderful people of Cape Town, and see the incredible work done by these two organizations.