This is Jennifer’s story about how she is making a difference in a Cape Town Township. Global Adventuress met Jennifer while on the Masi Township Tour and asked her to share her story. We were inspired by her volunteer efforts in South Africa, and recognize her travels in “Making a Difference” through our travels section at www.GlobalAdventuress.com.
In Jennifer’s words, here’s how she became involved with Sinethembain at the Masi Township. Her reward? Read on and see the smiles and progress below.
My first time to Cape Town was about 6 1/2 years ago for a study abroad/service learning trip through my university. We spent close to 2 weeks in Cape Town working with an organization called Living Hope.
After spending one day in the medical care centre I knew that once I was a fully licensed Physical Therapist I needed to come back here. So I made it through undergad and completed my Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2011, got a job at a hospital in the suburbs of Chicago (home for me) that supports medical mission/service trips and returned to Cape Town in February of 2013 for another 2 week short trip.
Well again, after this short trip I just felt like I needed to go back for an extended period of time, but knew I needed to act fast before talking myself out of it. With the help of a contact and friend I had in Cape Town, I got connected with the director at Sinethemba in Masi and God truly worked out the rest of the details.
I am here completely as a volunteer, covering all of my own expenses. I did very little fundraising for the trip, but received donations to cover the majority of my rent while I am here. This was something I wanted to do so I felt that I needed to make the financial sacrifice to do so (although next time I will definitely spend time fundraising) . I arrived September 2 and will leave December 11, so about 3 1/2 months in Cape Town volunteering at Sinethemba.
At Sinethemba I act primarily as a Physical Therapist treating the children’s various functional limitations and developmental delays and also as an assistant for the carers. The major diagnoses seen at Sinethemba are Cerebral Palsy, Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, Severe Austism, Epilepsy, Down Syndrome, and other gross physical and cognitive delays due to fetal drug exposure. The age range of the children at Sinethemba is 18 months to 20 yrs old.
I work on helping kids to crawl, walk with and without a walker, stand, and transitions from sitting to standing, balance, coordination, fine motor tasks, head control, rolling, feeding themselves, etc. I help with positioning the children throughout the day in their buggies, standing frames, and sidelyers to avoid developing contractures, skin breakdown, lung congestion, and other complications of immobility.
One of my goals while here was to spend time increasing education and career training in proper positioning and exercises for the children so that there is carry over when I leave. More information about Sinethemba and all that they do can be found on their website: http://sinethemba.info/index.html
I am there Monday through Fridays 9am-1pm. I also visit a child in one of the local creches (daycares) that is a bit late hitting his development milestones, assist with a youth group on Fridays in the township of Ocean View, and helped one of my room mates with an art club she started in Ocean View High school. Weekends I like to try to explore the city and surrounding areas 🙂