CTW Volunteers Alumni

Vodacom Group is a leading African mobile communications company that operates in over 40 countries

Sarah Barnes

Sarah  Barnes

Charity: Smile Foundation

Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity, and in cold weather becomes frozen, even so does inaction sap the vigour of the mind ~ Leonardo Da Vinci

So, July is done and dusted and I think that it actually tops all the preceding months as the busiest, it was action packed.

My month started off with a bang in the Eastern Cape.  I accompanied two plastic and reconstructive surgeons from the P.E. Hospital complex and a speech therapist on an outreach adventure! 
This was the first of its kind that Smile Foundation has undertaken and it was a very successful mission.  We visited Grahamstown, Craddock and Graaff Reinet on a mission to educate and assess.  Our team visited hospitals and clinics in these areas with an aim to assess any children with facial anomalies and educate their caregivers.  Those children that were assessed and operating was found to be a viable option were invited to attend our P.E. Smile week starting 13 August.  Outreach such as this is invaluable.  Many people in rural areas cannot afford to travel to big city centres to attend clinics and seek the advice of specialists.  These wonderful doctors and the dedicated speech therapist made this journey with me and it was an absolute privilege to work with them.  Their professionalism, good-nature and kindness was overflowing and they made all those they came into contact with feel at ease.

During July we also celebrated Nelson Mandela Day, and what a day it was. 34 Volunteers from Vodacom and Smile Foundation raised their hands and paintbrushes, sandpaper and spades for Madiba on 18 July 2012 at Chris Hani Baragwanath Academic Hospital.  The goal of the day was to give back to the community in which Smile Foundation works so closely by doing what we could to help the speech therapy and occupational therapy departments as well as ward 13, the ward where all patients are admitted during the annual Smile Week at CHBAH.

Various stations were set up and volunteers took to their tasks with zeal.  The activities included constructing and painting two cardboard playhouses for use in the speech therapy waiting area, rejuvenation of the garden and outdoor play area of the speech department, aiding the ward 13 staff in a spring clean of their ward and finally drawing and then painting murals of cartoons onto the walls of the occupational therapy department’s children’s area.  Volunteers were amiable and visibly committed to their tasks laughing with each other all the while taking extreme care to produce the best end product they could.  We even had a visit from the hospital CEO, Mrs Johanna Moré, who picked up a paintbrush and got to work!  The passion was palpable and inspiring.

The day was deemed, by all who participated as well as the departments who welcomed us so warmly into their space, a huge success.  It was an amazing experience to be witness to so many people giving so freely of their time to make a small area in this world safe and welcoming for children.  I am so grateful to these volunteers for helping me, and the rest of the Smile Foundation, ensure that the smiles that are created in operating theatres are seen again and again as children find themselves clambering on the newly painted jungle gym or greeting their neighbours from their new playhouses.

July also saw Smile Foundation’s team participating in 702’s Walk the Talk, we had team members walking the 5km, 8km and 15km, what a fun day!  To add to the business I attended the International Congress of Psychology conference in Cape Town.  It was an exhausting few days trying to glean as much from the various symposia and presentations as possible but interesting and inspiring, what an opportunity to be surrounded by some of the world’s great psychology minds.  During the conference I had my first radio interview with Chai FM.  I was quite nervous but found the experience thrilling…maybe this media business isn’t so scary after all.

Lastly, but definitely not least, I have spent July getting to know some very special children in Charlotte Maxeke Johannesburg Academic hospital.  Two of these very brave souls, Thoko and Kutlwano, have been in hospital for the better part of this year and yet still always have a ready smile for me when I get to their ward.  We are all looking forward to them being well enough to go home, but I’m going to miss their faces when this time comes.

So, August is now upon us…I wonder what it holds.  All good things I hope.

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