Friday, September 9, 2011

Feel the music of JABULA!

Get ready to fill your spirit with joy at Suncoast Hospice's 2011 JABULA! gospel fest. It's happening Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at McCabe United Methodist Church, St. Petersburg.

You'll hear the sounds of sensational local choirs all performing to support our sister hospice, Hospice Association of the Witwatersrand in Soweto, South Africa. It's free to get in, but we'll kindly accept your donations to our sister hospice.

This year's line-up includes Koinania Fellowship Choir, McCabe United Methodist Church, Elim Seventh Day Adventist, King of Peace MCC and Bayboro House.

Get there early for our teen volunteers' bake sale benefiting our sister hospice.

McCabe United Methodist Church is located at 2800 26th Ave. S., St. Petersburg. For more information about the event, call 727-523-3362.

We hope to see you there for this special evening. Thank you for your support!


Monday, March 7, 2011

First Annual Clearwater Central Catholic High School Hospice Teen Council Movie Night was a success!!

Clearwater Central Catholic High School's Hospice Teen Council held their first annual Hospice Movie night on Thursday March 3rd at 7pm.  The movie "Up" was shown, delicious snacks were for sale and everyone (my family included) enjoyed a movie under the stars.  A great big thank you to Rebecca May and Julie Murphy (as shown in picture) ...Suncoast Hospice Teen Council Co-presidents and Collen Kiernan, CCC teacher and teen council advisor. The Hospice Teen Council did a great job with the fundraiser and with creating awareness for our sister Hospice Wits. We can't wait for next year... :)

Friday, February 25, 2011

What now?

How quickly two and a half weeks have gone... It seems as though we were just talking about our trip, planning and then packing; and now we've been back for 2 days.

When we arrived, we were two teams; the four of us from Suncoast Hospice and the five management staff from Hospice Wits. Two weeks later, we were one team, united to ensure access to the best possible hospice care regardless of the country in which it is offered. We took these pictures shortly before we left for the airport to return to the US. There were smiles and laughter before and after they were taken. The Suncoast Hospice staff were also given Hospice Wits hats, so now we're all honorary staff of Hospice Wits, too!

The 2011 staff exchange trip was incredibly successful, every way you can measure success. We learned how to provide excellent hospice care with limited resources, how to creatively utilize all staff to ensure patient/family needs are met, how to take care of ourselves and others, and how to build and sustain teams. We also learned how much we are alike and how we can learn from each other's differences.

Our sister hospice feels a profound sense of hope knowing that we are 'here' and connected to them. There is much left to do. I hope you'll join in and support our sister hospice; which also helps to support and sustain Suncoast Hospice. Over the next few months you'll be hearing more about our three South African committees. I hope you'll consider joining us as we provide this mutual support. By utilizing Skype, our sister hospice colleagues will also be participating in our committees and assisting in planning.

Thank you for the many ways in which you helped the team that traveled to our sister hospice. We are grateful for your support.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Our partnership and what it means to me

Visits: I think the visits on both sides have been transparent and known because of all the staff involvement. It has strengthened the relationship and our understanding of the partnership.

Communication: The quarterly steering committee meeting held at Suncoast Hospice has been a great opportunity for us to be involved via Skype. It has allowed greater communication between the two hospices. Emails also play a big role in our communication. We get to know what's happening on their side and vice versa. Our notice (bulletin) boards also play a big role in updating our staff about Suncoast Hospice.

Training: Journal club for the doctors will use the journals we've gotten from the USA (brought on a flashdrive on this year's trip) as well as the AAHPM membership Suncoast Hospice got for us. All of this information is free for us and we're so grateful. We all received valuable in-service training during this visit. More electronic in-services have been prepared for us and we'll use it for ourselves and the staff. We're so appreciative of having access to the Learn Center.

Conclusion: I think whoever made this decision of partnership with Suncoast Hospice made the best decision. From now on we can only grow and sustain this relationship. Yes, our partners learn from us, too, but I think we benefit a lot from them. May our relationship grow stronger and stronger for all the years to come.

Ritta Khunga
Hospice Wits

"I'm new at this"

She was resting in her bed, her bright blue eyes and elegant face brightening with our visit.  Her swollen belly spoke to the reason for her Hospice referral. As Sister Ivey gently asked her admission questions this new patient would quietly answer the questions...and for several she ended with a profound disclaimer...."but I'm new at this".

Each day at Suncoast Hospice and Hospice Wits we have the privilege of meeting patients and families who are feeling very new at this journey of dealing with pain, symptoms they have never felt before and facing decisions they have never had to make before. Both of our Hospice programs are unique in that we are NOT new at this...we are leaders in palliative and hospice care in our respective communities....having the privilege of teaching and sharing about hospice with others as well. Through our partnership we have the opportunity to work and grow together in the innovation of ideas for the future.  My hope is that the sense of newness that each patient feels will continue to inspire all of us to strive for the future and to build on all that we already know.

The past two and half weeks have been a privilege.  My sincere appreciation to Hospice Wits and all the staff who have been so welcoming.  I see this as another successful chapter in our ongoing relationship and look forward to the next.    ------Deb Hagopian

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A relationship that matters, deeply!

I have learned more through the last 12 months of our relationship with the wonderful folk from Suncoast Hospice than in the previous 3 years of having the knowledge that they were partnering with Hospice Wits. Why is that? It is because I have had the privilege of spending time with, and really getting to know, members of the Steering Committee, the team that came over to South Africa in 2009 and the team that have spent time with us now in February 2011. Each one of them is passionate about what they are doing for Hospice Wits in South Africa and show a vested interest and passionate commitment to maintaining the relationship that provides Hospice Wits with so many value adding aspects to the work that we both do for our communities. Each one of them has energy and excitement when they are talking about Hospice Wits and they humble themselves and open their hearts and minds to learning from our staff as well as providing us with so much insight, experience and life skills learned from their work done across the ocean. Our relationship has developed over the past years but has so much potential to grow and mature into an all sharing and caring partnership where all our staff are fully aware of the nature of the work done by Suncoast Hospice for each and every one of Hospice Wits staff.
I personally feel a great excitement at the ease in which we have been able to share our learnings with each other during this recent trip, at the energy moving amongst the group to mature the relationships with each other at every level and at the keenness to find new and innovative ways in which to sustain and build on what has been put in place to date. 2011 is going to be a good year for Hospice Wits and all its staff. I do believe that the partnership with Suncoast Hospice is also going to grow in leaps and bounds, and that an understanding of roles and relationships will benefit each one of us. No one is more skilled or experienced than the other - we all need to open our hearts to share what we have in the way of experience and skills of palliative care with each other and therefore learn more and more from the world experiences
Jacqui Kaye.

Caring &Sharing

I have found the experience with Hospice Wits all about learning how we are caring and sharing together. What a wonderful partnership that enables us to learn so much from each other. The opportunity to make visits together ,experience the history of South Africa together and spend time socializing together has helped me to understand more clearly how we can help each other. We have validated each other in the way we provide care and come away with new ideas of how we can provide better care on both sides of the world We have affirmed for each other the importance of first knowing how much we each care about our patients and each other as we are learning how much we know and can teach each other.
The skills of care, compassion and respect are an essential part of both our hospices core values. I so very much look forward to the opportunity to build on these values and the relationships I have made while sharing the hospice experience in South Africa. Many thanks to you all who created this wonderful opportunity and will continue to make all our the dreams possible.


The Cape of Good Hope

Yesterday, we journeyed to the Cape of Good Hope....that place where many believed that the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet; the turning point for sailors searching for a shorter route to India; a place of turbulent waters and jutting rocks that foiled so many journeys. As our stay here in South Africa is drawing quickly to a close, I found myself reflecting on this journey.

I recall the day that I was invited to join the great adventure of traveling to South Africa for this visit to Hospice Wits. Since It's been less than a year since I joined the ranks of Suncoast Hospice, I wondered what I could possibly bring to our sister hospice. I certainly am not an expert on hospice care. In the end, I hoped that with my HR and Organization Development experiences, I could bring something of value to the people who make up Hospice Wits.

As I look at my pictures ad read my daily journal entries, I realize that quality end of life care is the common "ocean" on which we meet. Whether in Pinellas County, Florida or Joburg/Soweto, we do the same work. We have the potential to bring "good hope to our patients and families. Whether I was in Soweto with Sr. Freeda visiting a young woman who needed encouragement to take her HIV medication, or in Joburg with Sr. Ivy visiting a man with COPD, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter what "ocean" we swim in or what continent we call home, we all the same desire to love and be loved in return.

Just like those explorers who hoped to find that shorter route to the riches of India, we often lo0k for the easier route or the faster fix. As we sat together and discussed the "how" of hospice care, we found ourselves seeing the "greener grass" in each others proverbial back yard. Our African partners talking about the desire for more technology (they still are filling out multiple paper forms), while we were amazed hat how quickly they can get a patient into their IPU (in -patient unit) - even personally driving that patient there in their own car.

One of the biggest challenges for Hospice Wits from a leadership perspective is Change Management and Succession Planning. much in much to learn from each other.

In the end, it's not so much of what I was able to bring to South Africa, it's what I'm able to take home with me......Good Hope with newly made friends....Good Hope in the encouragement we give to each other for this important work......Good Hope for the future of this partnership.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The power of relationships

It's been almost two weeks since we arrived in South Africa. During these last two weeks I have frequently found myself humbled by the depth of caring and love I have felt both personally and professionally. Every day staff from our sister hospice greet us with smiles and hugs and are so appreciative of us being here. The Wits staff are overjoyed about the OTC supplies we brought (thank you again for your generous donations), the trainings we provided, and the resource materials we brought. Most importantly they are thankful for the gift of our friendship; and so are we.

Relationships are based on mutual respect, admiration, and the desire to provides support. We are a much better hospice because of our relationship with Hospice Wits. We have learned so much from our sister hospice and are bringing back many ideas we hope to implement. Do not think that we are only the teachers; we are also so clearly students here. I have learned much about what it means to be a leader and how to support staff during times of transition. I have learned how to be more creative in utilizing staff. I have learned how to really hear what our patients are saying to us and how to respond to what is deepest in their hearts. Traveling with Deb, David, and Gayle has helped me to better understand the power of team and how the sum is much much greater than the individual parts. I am committed to sharing all of these lessons and so much more upon my return.

How do you try and describe the bond we feel? How do you find the right words to describe the strong connection we have- over 9000 miles away- over land and ocean? Can you remember a time you felt alone and uncertain and how you were helped knowing that there was someone else who cared, even if that someone wasn't around the corner? That's what our partnership is all about. It is a way to live the mission and vision of Suncoast Hospice. It's about ensuring that everyone has access to hospice and palliative care, that all human beings are treated with dignity and respect, and that all of us on this wonderful spinning planet we inhabit together are much more alike than we are different.

It's also about so much more. We're currently in Cape Town, mixing a bit of pleasure with work. Even here, as we laugh together and enjoy the most amazing scenery, we're providing support to each other. As we walked on Table Mountain today, we shared work stories and offered support and guidance. As we drove on the highway and saw the many shantytowns that stretched for miles and miles we looked at all of them so that we could bear witness to how so many people in this world live. Most of all we honor each other and by doing so, honor everyone reading this blog.

I am grateful for being a Suncoast Hospice employee and for the opportunity to serve our hospice world in this capacity. Thank you for what you do each and every day to make a difference in Pinellas County and around the world.

In gratitude,

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Robben Island

Our tour guide shared with us today that Robben Island was the "University of Reconciliation," for not only for those imprisoned, but the guards as well. We encourage you to click on the link to learn more about this World Heritage site.

It was here that Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for over 18 years while strengthening and living his message of reconciliation between those who have been oppressed and their oppressors. We learned today that this message of reconciliation got its beginning with Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King and continued through Nelson Mandela and the other political prisoners on this island.

One of the most powerful experiences we shared was meeting a man, named Jama, who had been a political prisoner on Robben Island from 1976 to 1982. He shared his story of living in this prison with up to 60 men together in one large cell. In his quiet and gentle voice we heard about how hard life was during this time. Jama shared that he has been giving these tours for the past eight months and while it was an emotional challenge at the start, it is getting easier as time goes on. It was a pretty intense four hours.

Once back on the mainland, we spent an evening sharing dinner, some shopping and laughter (ending with a terrifyingly funny ride on a giant ferris wheel overlooking the harbor of Cape Town in "hurricane force winds"....see David for details....Deb for pics :).....).

David & Deb

Our Visit with HPCA

On our first day in Cape Town, we started the day's activities with a visit to HPCA (Hospice and Palliative Care Association). This organization is like South Africa's version of NHPCO. While there we had the opportunity to have a conversation with Dr. Liz Gwyther, the organizaton's CEO and Cathy Henning, their COO. It was interesting to talk about our different models of care. We learned that we face some of the same challenges around staffing and resources. This conversation confirmed what the entire trip has been teaching us over and over again.....we have some much in common.

David & Deb

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A South African Braai

On Sunday, we were treated to a South African braai (bbq) at the home of Dr. Patrick and Felicity Mashele. We had a wonderful afternoon visiting with Patrick, Felicity, their three wonderful sons, and new granddaughter (9 months old). We also had some of our friends from the Soweto site with us too: Dorkus, Dorothy, Susan, and Maya. It was a great afternoon. It was the perfect ending to a great wknd; relaxing and leisurely.

I also snapped this picture of Patrick and his youngest son Rhulani posting a comment on our blog (in response to Steve Lasky's comments in a few different South African languages. FYI, Patrick's was on Zulu). It's probably the first and only time we'll see Patrick's hands on a keyboard sending us an email!! Rhulani was turning 10 the day after our lunch and he's celebrating by a birthday paint ball party on Saturday the 19th.

We also had a nice leisurely return trip from Patrick's home to our host houses, with a fun detour to meet Patrick's 'Uncle Eddie' and his magnificent guest house. (FYI, the VP of Botswana was there). We've decided this house would be a great place to visit again.

Spending all this time and work and at homes with our colleagues has been absolute fantastic!


Witnessing Soweto

Tuesday we had the opportunity and privilege to spend half the day touring Soweto with four of our hospice colleagues. We learned a lot about the June 16, 1976 student uprising that began as a peaceful walk by high school students in opposition to being forced to study in Afrikaans. Most poignantly for us, at the Hector Pieterson Museum, we were greeted by Hector's sister (who is in the most famous picture of him being carried after being shot in the revolt). You can see her in the attached photo, wearing the gold skirt and blouse. She spent time with us sharing what happened on that fateful day. We are indebted to Sister Susan Mofolo for arranging this most special time. We also saw the Regina Mundi Catholic church were thousands of students ran to for safe haven, only to be shot upon by the police. The church still carries the scars of that time, as none of the bullet holes have been repaired. We all felt the power of being there and bearing witness to the horrible things we can do to each other.

Our day ended at Constitution Hill, an infamous prison where Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, and thousands of ordinary people like you and me were imprisoned and brutally treated for such minor offenses such as not having their passbook on them when going to the market. On this very same property is the Constitutional Court of South Africa. Placed there to symbolize the connection between the past and the future, it is a powerful statement of the hope the South Africans feel about their future. Prior to our arrival, there was an election. When we asked one of our South African colleagues about how many eligible voters vote, the response was about 80%. Just think how that compares to our country...


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

soweto tour

Hello what a trip staying in Soweto it does not mean you know Soweto ,been part of this tour it was eye opening to me ,how it is important to know your country ,it was indeed a revival and reminder of what had happened before we could say we are now entering Democracy ,that route which were rough patchy ,stormy,rainy sunny ,bullets ,tears gas,dog bites for our sisters and brothers .,But stil having people who say they are not going to vote ,what a disgrace

Phineas Malahlela
soweto hospice

Monday, February 14, 2011

Wonderful Hospitality

How truly wonderful to really be here. It has been a very busy and exciting time with much to learn and many new friends made. The opportunity to b a part of the hospice work has been so enriching . I especially enjoyed the chance to compare notes with my peers both the psychosocial teams and the intake/admissions ladies. It reminds me that despite very different situations the work we do, the caring is always so similar. The home visits were heartbreaking and enlightening. My very firs visit with the sister was a 38yo woman with recent cva referred in the clinic whose family was unaware and "not ready for hospice just yet" making me feel right at home.
The staff and patients have been so warm in welcoming us. Overwhelming kindness is a way of living no matter how difficult their circumstances might be. As Kahlil Gibran wrote kindness ia not a sign of weakness or despair but of strength and resolution. I am so looking forward continuing our journey... gayle


All of us spent a day doing visits with the Sisters (nurses) in Soweto.  I had the privilege of doing visits with Sister Maria.  She is known for having worked the longest at Hospice Wits...25 years...she could remember when they first started with a small house and an inpatient unit- where she first worked.  She and I visited several patients throughout the day and I want to share about one young man named Lucky.  Lucky was 36 years old and a brand new referral from another organization.  We had no phone number so we were going to show up and see if we could see him.  We wound through the small roads past the bustling neighborhoods and found the modest home with a few rose bushes growing in front.  We were greeted by his sister at the door.  His Granny had gone out and would be back shortly.  We went in and met with Lucky in his bedroom. A very strong odor and flies filled the room. The circumstance were difficult.  He had HIV, TB of the Spine, paralysis of the lower extremities, severe oral thrush, extensive decubitis all the way across the entire sacrum and new onset of severe pain in his R leg and knee for the last 2 weeks.  After explaining the program, completing Admission paperwork and signing consent Sister Maria discussed the option of admission to the inpatient unit.  Regardless of language I could see Lucky was unsure of this...he appeared afraid and did not want to leave his home.  Just like our patients at our Hospice..sometimes the unknown can  be more scary then difficult circumstances at home. After dressing changes with home made saline and some of the supplies actually brought on this trip were completed by Sister Maria and myself he felt more comfortable.  He agreed to go.  There was no transport available.  Sister Maria shared that often when there is no transport available they take patients in their car.  The family helped Lucky into the car.  The Granny, myself and the supplies were in the backseat and we took a quick drive to the Soweto Hospice office.  Lucky was helped into the unit and made comfortable.  Before we left and after he was settled into his bed I was able to visit with him again. I asked him what he thought as he lay in the bed with a much more relaxed look on his face.  He told me "I feel like I will feel better in this place...I feel it already in this place".  >>>>>>> Sunday we had barbecue at Dr. Patrick's home.  Sister Dorcas who oversees the Inpatient Unit told me that Lucky died at 1am the morning after he was admitted to the unit.  They had redressed his wound and found maggots.  They had given him a meal, juice, water and pain medicine and he had been so comfortable.  His Granny and family were able to come and spend time with him before he died.  They were thankful that he was comfortable.  I was privileged to have met him, to have seen the work that Sister Maria is doing and that we in some small way are working to support.  There are many ""Lucky"'s ....         -------Deb

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Wonderful Hospitality

Our team is staying at three different homes, which has been quite nice for all of us. It's giving us an opportunity to get to know each other much better. In addition to talking about work in the evening, we're also sharing parts of our personal lives with each other as well as customs of our own countries. I have even shared the 'ins and outs' of American football with Jacqui and her husband Hilton! Although we missed the Superbowl, I was able to show them some of the Superbowl commercials on You Tube.

Friday night the four of us had a sleep over at the home of Barbara and James Campbell-Ker. Barbara, you may remember, is the former ceo of Hospice Wits. She and James showed us such wonderful hospitality. We had a wonderful meal on Friday night, concluding with Don Pedros (an ice cream drink with Amarula- an African liquor). On Saturday Barbara took us to the African Market so the team could pick up some gifts for those back home. Saturday night we went to a wonderful African restaurant that had a buffet of traditional African foods. Quite yummy! (The 2009 trip also went to this restaurant). Then, as in 2009, we went next store and saw a play. It was quite interesting and was the story of a Black African man during the time of Apartheid whose passbook was out of date, creating a place of limbo for him- couldn't work anywhere, would have been jailed if stopped by the police and couldn't travel back to his home city where his wife and 4 children were. It was very thought provoking. We returned to our hosts after the play.

Today, Sunday, we're going to Dr. Patrick Mashele's home for lunch, where we'll have a chance to visit with Patrick, Felicity, and their family, along with many staff from the Soweto site. We're all looking forward to this opportunity for fellowship and socialization.

All four of us have been taking diligently notes about all the things we've learned here. We're eager to share some of our sister hospice's best practices. So far we've had such wonderful reciprocal opportunities to learn from each other.

We really enjoy reading your comments. Keep them coming!


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Apartheid Museum

Today was another amazing day. We started this morning doing our second day of training. Today we trained the clinical staff at the Houghton office. Everyone did a great job. Hospice Wits staff were very complimentary and asked a lot of questions. They're eager to meet individually with us tomorrow so they can ask more specific questions about their particular areas.

After lunch we went to the Apartheid Museum. (The pictures are of us in the hospice van). This is an amazing museum that is a testament to the horrors of the apartheid era. What made this visit even more amazing is that we had the privilege of being accompanied by 5 staff from our sister hospice. Although they hadn't been to this museum before, they were all very aware of its subject matter. As Innocent, one of Hospice Wits' drivers told us, "I don't have to read everything that's displayed because we (he and his family) lived through it. What a humbling experience for us... We're all struck by how horrible man can be to fellow man. Equally important to note is how new generations can truly make a difference. Our South African colleagues are so very positive and full of hope- and so are we.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

It's all about the patients

Today was a spectacular day. Each of us had the privilege to spend the day with one of the Soweto nursing sisters. In 5 1/2 hours I made 5 home visits with Nursing Sister Susan and then we took (in her hospice issued car) one of the patients we visited back to the hospice IPU for admission. So, in essence we made 6 very full and highly engaging visits from 9:15 to 3:15 with no breaks, including no lunch (or bathroom breaks).

Each time I've visited our sister hospice I've re-learned the same important lesson; which is how to get back to basics, focusing on the most important issue at hand and not letting real or imagined barriers prevent hospice from happening. With so little, our sister hospice accomplishes so much. As I told Susan, "today magic happened."

I'm still reflecting upon my experiences today and know that it will take me a few days before I'm ready to blog about it. So much to think about and sort through.

What I want you to know is how proud the Hospice Wits staff are of our partnership. At each home we visited today, Susan described me and our hospice just like how a twin sister would be. Several staff have expressed interest in our staff exchange and would love to visit us. All staff are so appreciative of the scrapbooks and photo album we brought. They love seeing your pictures.

No matter what language we speak, deity we pray to, or color our skin is, we are all part of this wonderful human experience. We are bound to each other by our common experience of hospice. Even though we may not have understood the languages spoken at our visits today, we understood the depth of the human interactions and the commonality between all of us. We witnessed remarkable hospice care today. I thought about all of our staff and knew that they were there with us today also. I know our staff do this same remarkable work- the difference is one hospice is in Florida, the other in South Africa.

Thank you all for your support of this partnership and our trip here. We enjoy reading your comments of our posts, so please keep them coming. It helps to let us know that you're reading them and keeps us connected to Suncoast Hospice.

The next two days are filled with two half days of training and meeting individually with staff to provide some 1:1 assistance and coaching. Our team is doing a great job. I know you'd be very proud of their work so far.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Great Excitement - our friends are here!

So Stacy, Deb, Gayle and David arrived amidst much excitement from the staff of Hospice Wits. So wonderful to see their smiling faces coming out of International arrivals on Sunday evening. We have enjoyed listening to their experiences, meeting and greeting our staff and spending time sharing the beginning of their training presentations with the staff at Soweto. There is still so much to do and time seems to be flying already but everyone is eagerly anticipating when their turn will be to talk with one of the team members. So we are so enjoying having our friends from Suncoast Hospice with us - wish that we could have had all of you over here with us but we send our love across cyber space. As I type this note we have a typical afternoon thunder shower, with lightening and thunder in the air....beautiful Africa! Chat again soon.

Clinical Training and Vsiting the Children

This morning found us in Soweto for our clinical presentations to the staff at that location. The participation was fantastic. The room was literally standing room only. The topics of Building the Team, Children's Bereavement, Caregiver Burnout and Resilience were well received. Just as back at home, we struggled with getting the technology to function, but ultimately found the right connection.

The afternoon was spent with the children at the daycare center check out the pictures. They tell the whole story.

Warm Welcome

What a wonderful first day with our sister Hospice. All four of us were welcomed with a breakfast and warm greetings at Houghton and a tour of the Inpatient unit at Houghton...a tour of all of the incredible resale shops  and then an emotional welcome of music and dance, lunch and tour of Soweto Hospice. They loved the scrapbooks that you put together..thanks for working so hard on them!! We have found that our mutual love for Hospice and our patients provides an immediate connection.  - Deb

Monday, February 7, 2011

We're famous (well, inside in Soweto office)

Today while we were roaming around the Soweto office we saw our pictures on their notice (bulletin) board. Not only was our picture posted on top of a hand made American flag; they also included our biographies, a count down of the number of days until we arrived, and encouragement for the staff to look for us and seek us out. We all chuckled about our new found fame... (better than having a wanted poster with our names and pictures. I'm including a copy of pictures for you to see. It was hard to get a really close image without a glare so you'll have to take our word for it too!


Off to South Africa

On Saturday, February 5th, we left to visit our sister hospice. Here's a picture of us looking nice and refreshed, eager to start our adventure. We took this picture before our plan left Washington DC. 18 hours later and 7 hours ahead of EST, we arrived in Johannesburg, tired and excited (no pictures taken!). We were met at the airport by Jacqui Kaye and Christine Warner, two of our hosts. We all went to our hosts' homes, had a light bite to eat and got in bed by 10:00 pm Johannesburg time. Our bodies are still adjusting to the travel and time zone changes so none of us slept through the night. Hopefully tonight will be much better.

I'll publish another post later sharing highlights of today, our first day. If each day is as good as today was, this will be a spectacular trip.


Our day in Soweto

What a great day today was! We started out this morning at the Houghton office (Jo-berg) where we were greeted by the staff. We had a chance to have a light breakfast with them and to chat informally. After a brief tour of their offices, we left to see all 11 (that's right, 11) of Hospice Wit's resale shoppes. Lunchtime brought us to Soweto, where we were greeted by the Sisters, Community Care Workers, HIV Day Care patients, and office staff. Dressed in their tribal clothing, they met us on their driveway and greeted us with joyful songs. As we entered the building, the staff continued singing all the way through the building to the meeting room. After lunch together, the staff shared gifts with us and sang to us again. None of us were able to take pictures of this as the four of us were so caught up in the moment. Truth be told- we probably wouldn't have been able to focus a picture as our eyes were quite full. What a moment...

We came back to our hosts' homes late afternoon for a bit of relaxation prior to dinner and then (hopefully) a full night's sleep. Tomorrow we start at 8 am, with a half day training at Soweto, lunch, and then a visit to Mapetla (daycare center).

More stories to come later.