‘This is why I volunteer’

Posted on 20 January 2017

Mediclinic encourages its staff and affiliated doctors to take some time out every year to volunteer. Dr Mandi Oosthuizen, a GP at Mediclinic Hoogland in Bethlehem, volunteered with the Joyce Meyer Ministries Hand of Hope medical outreach programme. She tells us what she found most enriching about her two weeks in Madagascar.

Medical outreach programmes allow doctors, nurses, pharmacist, dentists and ambulance personnel to give free medical service in a temporary clinic. The 30 Hand of Hope volunteers, hailing from the US, UK, Denmark and South Africa, met in Antananarivo, Madagascar, from where they departed by bus to Moramanga in the east, the city closest to the remote site of the tented clinic.

How the temporary clinic works

The clinic was very well organised. Each healthcare provider had a translator and the tents were set up in a circle, with each one given a specific designation:

  • weight and temperature checks station
  • vital signs
  • doctors
  • wounds and eyes
  • missionary
  • pharmacy

The Hand of Hope medical outreach showed some impressive stats:

  • The 30 healthcare providers saw 4 500 patients
  •  14 900 prescriptions were dispensed
  • The dentistry team pulled 2 200 teeth, despite being understaffed

How the programme works

Any nurse, doctor, dentist, pharmacist or ambulance personnel can volunteer for the programme. More dentists need to go – in fact, the need is overwhelming. Some funding is also needed for each volunteer, because you pay for your own flight ticket plus a fee to host the outreach. People can also donate money for medication or apparel.

Most memorable part of the programme

The absolute joy and gratitude from the patients for flip-flops, food, toys, glasses or medication we gave out was wonderful. I was also able to comfort and encourage a young lady who was an outcast due to infertility, which was an enriching experience for me.

Although I was exhausted by the time I returned home, it reminded me to be thankful for the small everyday things. Spiritually, I felt blessed and encouraged to press on in my daily job. Above all, it reminded me that there is a lot of opportunity in South Africa to make a difference too.


Published in CSI

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