Soooooo, as promised, an update on my life here in Empangeni. I started out as a regular volunteer, when volunteers were on 12 hour shifts throughout the week. It became apparent that the house, although still benefiting from having two staff on nights, really needed a hands on person there during the day managing the day to day life of the Home. Everything from grocery stock and ordering, medications, doctors visits, staff management and training, office stuff, processing donations, hosting visitors and delegating to volunteers, etc etc, and that person magically became ME. And I have been loving it. So I am officially House Manager and we are attempting to turn it into a long term position, a for reals hire, because..really...what would they do without me? :)
So, here are some highlights and feelings of accomplishment that have come from my coffee fueled 7-5 workdays so far.....
1. Staff manual is almost finished and there will be a centrally located and multi-lingual resource book for how to do everything, from meds to cleaning to feeding, to the daily routine to bathing, to all the advice and tips you could need for acting like you know what you're doing with 5 crying children.
2. Medication System. A new meds record system, with preplanned charts and notes. Yeehaw.
3. An organized nurses station with med procedures, office supplies, sterile syringes, and communications binder.
4. Staff Training: a successful first of many monthly trainings to come. We did almost 4 hours on house basics and it was a hit, lots of discussion and lots of input from our wonderful staff and eager volunteers. And the muffins were fantastic! Just to look around the house and see organization, 'how to' signs for ever task, and a resource center for our volunteers makes my heart beat a little slower.
5. We have really got on the ball about taking care of our medically fragile child (a new addition) Sipho and we have been on schedule with her appointments, ARV treatments, and a proper instructions on her meds and diagnosis.
6. We have potentially found a doctor that wants to supervise our children's medical care. That is pending, but of course that will hopefully result in my ability to put together a medical care system that will ensure continuity of care and excellent supervision of meds and overall health.
7. Organization of clothes and newly donated cupboards. It may seem trivial, but we now have a cupboard for each age group and child and a change to do an overhaul of the clothes we have, throw out old ones, and rotate in some really adorable clothes we have set aside from the plethora we found in the storage unit.
8. The Storage Unit. That is an ongoing project, one that I have failed to delegate this week due to many no shows by volunteers (shame!), but it is almost done and much improved from its prior state of bee infestation and moldy bags of nappies. We have managed to donate quite a bit to another care center, put the boxes on shelves and properly labeled, and found a place for our recent donation of cleaning products.
9. Groceries. Although our eventual goal is to get meals and 'en masse' foods made off site and frozen for the week, we are functioning fairly well on the system currently, with weekly fresh groceries, and efforts by all our staff (including me!) of daily cooks of the basics such as chicken, vegetables, beef, butternut, mashed potatos, etc. I wish I ate as well as the kids do :) But we have consulted an eager to help nurse for an age appropriate feeding guide, as well as many hours on the american pediatric website, and have put together feeding schedules and meal options for every imaginable age group. Go us!
10. We are getting internet and phone lines....any day now....things are slow here. Ask anyone.
11. I (and eventually all the staff) am going in to the NPA hospital on Tuesday for ARV (AIDS treatment) training so that we can all better prepared to take care of medically fragile children. And of course, there will be a SYSTEM created. OH how I love systems.
12. We have been working with a social worker from christian social services, Zinhle, to get our butts in gear for opening, solidifying, and hopefully closing each case (ie trying to get these kids fostered and adopted into a realy family). Its a little confusing for me to get my head around the system, and I give major credit to Zinhle who does all the real work, but we are making progress.
13. Well, I could go on and on and on but what I really want to talk about is MY SOUTH AFRICA ROAD TRIP.
Long story short, we are going to pick up a car from capetown that my "neighbor/housemate/friend" Gerhard has bought that run on sunflower oil. It is a mercedes 4x4, apparently really old, and I picture it being like one of those old SUVs that you see in movies about Africa. Actually I'm positive thats what it looks like. So anyways, we're flying there friday morning, Me, Lizl, Gerhard and we're driving back to Empangeni in two nights, three days. And its over 1000 kilometeres. Soooooo wish us luck. AND that we don't break down. But I'm mainly looking forward to being the annoying American with my camera out the whole time. Yeeehhaawww. Road Trip.