A few years ago, my wife and I found out, through a friend, of a charity in Johannesburg where all the workers work from home, are voluntary and not only work for no remuneration, but pay most of their expenses out of their own pockets.
The fact that all my donations were going to the “sharp end” and were not wasted in expensive offices, general expenses and high salaries appealed to me greatly.
Each year we send them £50 on my wife's birthday and £50 on my birthday, and have cut down our celebratory meal drastically from around £125 to £75 to pay for it. We both feel a lot better this way.
The following copy has been lifted from various pages of their website and cut and pasted together to give you a short explanation of what they are all about. Their website is at www.bhcc.org.za. Should you wish to donate, you can do so on the “Greater Good” website by using the button below.
Patients at State hospitals and clinics in South Africa are typically destitute, malnourished, as well as being very sick or injured. Many are jobless, many are homeless, many have no loved-ones to provide the basic needs for them for a hospital stay or for a visit to the clinic.BHCC (Baragwanath Hospital Comforts’ Committee) is a charity started in the early 1950s by doctors’ wives from the then Baragwanath Hospital, aimed at providing basic necessities to destitute patients. It has since grown to cover all State Hospitals and the majority of State Clinics in the Greater Johannesburg Region. We are a registered NPO and PBO with Section 18A tax exemption status.Consisting of a group of volunteers, we strive to allocate donors’ funding to reach the maximum of patients with the most desperately needed help. We now have four main missions.
Hospital comfortsHundreds of patients arrive daily at trauma facilities in Johannesburg hospitals. Thousands more are admitted for medical conditions and procedures. The State provides very cheap, or free, medical care. What it can’t provide is more than the basic bed and treatment.
Victims of abuse, assault and accidents typically have their clothes cut from them during treatment, and these are often damaged and bloodied anyway. When it comes time to discharge those patients, the hospital cannot provide replacement clothing and shoes. This is where we come in. Most of our supplies of clothing and shoes to patients originate from donations of second-hand goods, some are hand-made.Toiletries, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, wash cloths and deodorants, are basic needs for anyone staying more than a day in hospital and we deliver these regularly.Well over 100 babies are delivered daily at our local hospitals in Johannesburg, and many of these arrive without warning. Mothers are given between 4 and 12 hours to leave the hospital after a normal delivery, so they often need baby goods.Other needs, such as Occupational Therapy Aids, recovery aids, educational games and activities are also requested routinely.
Bread for life
Patients who leave home at dawn and wait until late in the day for treatment cannot leave their seats for fear of losing their place. Feeding these patients at the outpatients’ clinics themselves not only provides for a basic need but ensures a full stomach on which to take their medication.With chronic treatments such as HIV/Aids and Tuberculosis (TB), compliance is key. The promise of a nourishing meal at the clinic encourages adherence to lengthy treatment programmes. Statistics by nutritionists at some of our clinics show that in certain areas, over 50% of registered patients are so malnourished that they are classified as marasmic or kwashiorkor. Many treatments are helped if the patient can be supported nutritionally, which is what we as a charity can help with.We provide soup, bread, peanut butter and vitamin-enriched fruit juice to patients in the waiting rooms, and where possible, additional nutritional support in the form of immune-boosting porridge to take home. We are being partnered in this mission by Blue Ribbon Bread and have received some once-off assistance from the National Lotteries’ Fund
One of the major problems for patients needing to follow chronic treatment plans is compliance. Appearance at a clinic is often as much an economic decision as a health decision. Sporadic attendance can have serious repercussions : and it is not simply a question of recovery periods being set back or prolonged.In today’s South Africa we are currently dealing with barely containable health crises. ARV treatments (anti-retroviral treatments for HIV positive patients) are for the rest of a patient’s life. Failure to adhere to the programme will result in secondary illnesses developing, from AIDS-related cancers (currently our oncology wards are overloaded) to tuberculosis (TB). TB treatments should ideally run for 6-9 months (2 to 3 full courses of antibiotics). If antibiotics are abused by taking sporadic dosages, the bacteria which remain in the system between dosages are the most resistant ones, and these multiply. Once resistant forms of TB develop, the standard antibiotics will no longer treat them. Multi-drug resistant TB and extensively drug resistant TB are killer forms of the disease for which there is often no cure, and they are totally man made.If patients who genuinely cannot afford the fare to the clinic can be reimbursed, non-compliance may become a thing of the pastOur transport fund also helps penniless inpatients be discharged.
We occasionally allocate any discretionary funds to refurbishments of dilapidated wards and premises at hospitals and clinics under our care.Our emphasis recently has shifted to self-help, income-generating and occupational therapy projects, including sewing projects, knitting, beading, craft work, gardening projects, anything that can provide therapy to patients while teaching them skills and producing useable items to sell or to put towards other projects, (for instance, a vegetable-growing project can provide inputs to HIV patient feeding schemes).