This will be my final blog from here in Munsieville; I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me and anyone who has been reading along with with the blogs thus far.  Again, I’d like to also thank Hope Through Healing Hands and the Frist Global Health Leaders program, for helping to make this trip possible.  It’s been a busy six weeks in Munsieville, but I feel that I’ve accomplished a great deal at Hope Park, and I think that the work I’ve done will be of use to the volunteers and workers at Hope Park for years to come. 

During these weeks, I took some time to create and give a three-part lecture series on depression to the adult community.  Often in communities like this, mental health issues are talked about very little, and (as in other communities where poverty and substance abuse are so widespread), depression is something which is very common in Munsieville.  Considering my own interest in psychiatry as a medical specialty, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity, both for me to gain more experience teaching about depression, as well as for the community members for whom I created these lectures.  Overall, I focused on the causes, sign & symptoms, and treatment options for depression.  In particular, I did a great deal of research on what psychiatric services were available in South Africa, especially those available at no or little cost, and found out about a surprising number of useful resources.  Among these were The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), toll free suicide prevention and psychiatric crisis hotlines, as well as an emergency psychiatric response unit, which had several fast-response vehicles throughout the Gauteng province.  I provided the contact information to these resources during each of my lectures, as well as leaving a copy at Hope Park to be referenced in the future.  What’s more, I gave a pre-test and post-test for each of my lectures, to determine self-evaluation of need, knowledge, and willingness to help regarding depression.  I was surprised by the results, where 100% of those polled stated that the “Agreed” or “Strongly Agreed” that depression was a major problem in their community, as well as that many people they knew had been affected by depression.  I also had very positive results after my lectures, with all but one participant stating that they found the content useful, and that they felt better prepared to counsel their community about depression as a result of the lesson.  Overall, I believe that this lecture series was useful as it helped to educate community members about this topic, as well as establishing Hope Park as a safe place to get more information about depression.  

My first lecture on depression

In my final week here, the schools in Munsieville have ended their term, and thus kids in the community haven’t been going to school during the day.  Therefore, in order to create a safe place for these children to go during school hours (rather than be left to wander the streets), we have been holding the Kids Club at Hope Park.  The Kids Club is an event held daily whenever the public schools in Munsieville do not meet, and it is a full day of activities such as morning lessons, a free lunch for everyone in attendance, scheduled game times, and free play during the afternoons.  Lessons were given on hand washing, oral hygiene, how to avoid peer pressure and drug use  as well as other important health topics. We also had a number of organized activities for the kids to participate in such as puzzles, reading, board games, and physical activities such as soccer, musical chairs, and tug-of-war.  We’ve been very busy during this time, and on our busiest day, we had over 200 children in attendance.  To handle this number, we were assisted by a charitable ministry organization called Cross Connect, who helped us by providing food, other resources such as books and games for the kids, as well as sending several volunteers to help us during the day.  We also recruited and trained some of the older children in the community to be peer leaders, and to help with activities such as handing out food and water, keeping things organized, and promoting conflict resolution amongst the younger kids.  

A busy day at the Kids Club

For more information about my last two weeks here, feel free to watch the attached video blog, which I took during one of the days of the Kids Club.  While I’ve greatly enjoyed my time here in Munsieville, and will hopefully be able to return someday, I feel more than ready to return home.  As I graduate from medical school in just a few weeks, I have a lot to look forward to, and I am very excited about the future.  Nonetheless, I am very contented with my experiences in Munsieville, and the things that I’ve seen and done here will surely be a positive impact on me for the rest of my life.  Thank you very much for reading, and safe travels!