Calandra Miller - Munsieville
The weather has turned here in the Johannesburg suburbs. For this reason, we work from day to day not knowing exactly what kind of participation we will have from the Munsieville residents. Mondays are spent with Engelinah, Eva, and Betty meeting with their women's groups for most of the day, and Glenn and I focusing on the specifics for our needs assessment survey. Health screening is usually every Tuesday but due to the cold weather last Tuesday (June 23) only 4 mothers attended. The weekly baby bathing held on Wednesdays have had a similar fate. The temperature was much too cold for the mothers to bath their babies even in the fellowship hall of the Catholic church for the past 3 weeks. The women did attend but we did not set up the baby tubs. They received food and clothes from other organizations as usual.
This past Wednesday (June 24) Glenn and I prepared a short health education lesson for the 30 big brothers and sisters of the babies that are normally bathed. This gave them the opportunity to have something to take part in while their mothers collect food, clothes, or see the nurse. With the help of Engelinah, I was able to teach the children the importance of hand washing. Our lesson included colorful posters and coloring sheets for the children with hand washing and germ related games on them. We concluded the lesson with a demonstration on how to wash hands in a basin since most of them do not have a sink with a faucet in their homes. We helped the children remember to "make bubbles" for a sufficient amount of time by singing a local nursery rhyme song that lasts about 20 seconds. We gave each child a bar of soap to take home with them. Little did we know that giving the soap turned out to be the source of tension among the mothers. We had barely enough soap for each child to take home and no extras. Some of the mothers and others waiting to see the nurse did not have children that participated in our lesson. They all wanted the soap and began rushing back into the church in search for the people giving away soap. Apparently, soap is a hot commodity. (How strange since each bar of soap was less than 40¢)
Thursdays and Fridays are usually the main days that Glenn and I go out into the settlement with Engelinah and Eva to administer the rapid assessment surveys and parenting map specifically for the women of the VSF group. Due to the cold and rainy weather we have only been able to complete about a half a dozen surveys each day between the four of us.
Even though the weather has slowed some of our work in the settlement itself, we have been able to make great progress on our needs assessment survey for Munsieville. This survey is the primary reason that Glenn and I are here. We have been able to make new contacts with local government and other organizations with a similar interest in the residents of the local informal settlements. We have also found several other surveys from South Africa, USA, and UK governments and organizations gathering similar data that we are interested in that have become wonderful resources. We have been able to create a working draft of our survey with the hopes of field testing on July 2nd or 3rd. We hope to have a final draft of our survey sent to the local government by July 13. Once our survey is approved we can begin implementing it in the Munsieville population.
Even though Johannesburg is thousands of miles away from the U.S. there are apparently world-class Independence Day celebrations taking place this week to look forward too. As a foreigner, we have the right to celebrate our native country's holidays by taking the day of off work. Since The Fourth is on Saturday, Stefan says we can have July 3rd off from work. I asked if it was a sign to prove there were no hard feeling between us (with him being a Brit and all).