Maitland Cottage Hospital Trip Report Part 1
After a very early arrival at the airport, a cancelled flight, a rebooking over Doha, and more than a whole day without sleep, we finally safely arrived in Cape town Monday afternoon! We immediately rushed to the hospital, which was at walking distance from the hostel to meet Julie, the person responsible for Maitland. The tour around the boys and girls’ wards was an eye-opener. All of sudden our status changed; we were no longer regular teenagers, NO we had become AUNTIES in a mere couple of seconds. Auntie, auntie, auntie come here` is all we could hear. This first encounter with these cute and kind patients was very touching.
Early wake up, but definitely worth it! Today we visited the Reddam school, which is like St John’s also managed by the Inspired group. The school is located near the foot of one of the mountains surrounding the valley and has a beautiful view from all around. The size is at least twice as big as our school, yet the classes remained quite small. In fact, we had the opportunity to follow some classes of math, sciences and Afrikaans, which I personally found most interestingJ Something we all found less interesting was the early starting time of classes: 7:45 am! L In the afternoon we went zip lining in Constantia, something which everyone found a very exciting experience.
Today, the group was split into two. We, however, all did the same activities but at different times. The first activity consisted of going to the hospital where we unpacked all the donated clothes while at the same time sorting them by age. The brand-new aunties also entertained their brand-new cousins and nephews by making puzzles, building houses with legos and showing them how to create even more creative and brighter art work. The second activity was either a scooter, more like a step, tour for dare devils or a cable ride to the top of Table Mountain. The mountain wasn’t wearing its blanket today 🙂 The scooter tour offered a very nice view of the valley and surrounding fauna. The hike on top of Table Mountain offered an even a better view of the surrounding area 🙂 The bright blue sky made sure that all pictures were simply perfect 🙂
Today we spent a long time in the hospital playing with the kids and always meeting new ones. They are all very different which makes it nice to circulate around the ward. Unfortunately though, there was chickenpox running around the girls’ ward, which limited us to the boys’ ward only. Something I noticed the kids particularly like doing is listening to music on our phones, because this is something they don’t have access to on a regular day basis. The other part of the day we visited Bo Kaap which is known as the Malay Quarter. It is situated on the slopes of Signal Hill above the city center. The area is known for its brightly coloured homes, cobble stoned streets and …. St. Johns models enjoying unique Instagram moments.
Today we once again went inside the hospital itself and played with the kids, and yes, even after seeing us so many days in a row, they still didn’t seem tired of us. I also conducted some interviews with different staff members to get more insight on the Hospital itself. (these will be made available soon.) Today we also unpacked some more suitcases and yet again tried to find new exciting ways to entertain the kids. The other part of the day was quite busy, we visited the Cape town aquarium, containing sea life from both the Atlantic and Indian ocean. Of course, our St. Johns boys had a blast :). They identified completely with the clown fishes or Nemo`s. Luckily the aquarium had a fixed closing time or they would still be sitting or swimming amongst those beautiful black and orange striped gems of the Indian Ocean :). We also visited the Zeitz museum known for its contemporary African art, and we had dinner at the beautiful V- A waterfront.
Today is the day we had a historical tour around the city of Cape town, and learned more about the government functions in this country. We were supposed to visit Robben Island, but due to stormy weather conditions were not able to take the boat to the island so the tour was cancelled. Instead of this tour, we drove to some of South Africa’s most beautiful beaches and went to the Biscuit Mill. The Biscuit mill was originally a cookies factory. At the Biscuit Mill, not only the boys but also the girls had a blast: the food was terrific and the shops were splendid.
This morning we had a 2-hour street art tour in Salt River, part of Woodstock. Street art has played a major part in transforming the area into a safe and vibrant community; while adding to its lively creative character. The majority of the art on display in the streets of Woodstock has some type of transformative message, from nature conservation (saving water) to social justice, and general flourishment of the community. Our St john’s boys understood the message very well. The minute they saw street boys playing soccer, they wanted to teach the kids some extra skills. What started as a class soon turned into a soccer game. Guess what, St johns won and the local boys were in awe of the St John’s Courtois, Kompany, Lukaku and Hazard J In the afternoon, we visited the Cheetah outreach centre, which was a nice opportunity to not only pet the animals, but also learn more about the South African wildlife, and the different measures put into place to try and preserve it as well as possible.
This was our last day in beautiful South Africa. We said goodbye to the patients and nurses whose company we cherished the past week. This week proved to be a mind-opening experience which transformed us all. We also said goodbye to Tiger`s Milk, my personal favourite restaurant of the week and of course we said thank you, dankie, merci to Mrs. Demyttenaere, Mrs. Bompas, Mrs. Sietses and Mrs Weber, Freya`s mom, without them this trip would not have been possible at all!
By Juliette, grade 11