I have been quite lazy about updating this page this week, but I have truly had a busy week, which culminated in me leaving campus at 3am on Friday morning, returning to campus later that day for a 9am design hand-in, driving off to the cape-flats to spend the morning in Nyanga and Gugulethu, and finishing the day off with my EWB project’s braai which ran until 8pm…

Comments on the above: the braai was great, the first time in days that I could just relax and have a cider and a good conversation…I think that my project team is really starting to gel. It’s so different to see people in a social environment, away from the stiffness and formality of work. It definitely eased my view of my position, and will probably go a long way in helping me be a better lead.

Oh, and one of the guys brought his energy-efficient stove!! This awesome, little thing took about 5 minutes to get hot, cooked the boeri in minutes, and folded away into a little pouch that could have fit in my hand-bag! The best part about it was that it used only a couple of twigs the entire night! (the township caterers use a bakkie-load of natural/treated wood in a week, that costs them R250/load!) Well done T.H. for living the change you want to see. (BTW, he also only eats game-meat, and doesn’t eat fish due to sustainability issues. Oh yes, and his bakkie runs of Bio-diesel that is made from used cooking oil!)
Saturday was another early morning. I attended a pilot workshop run by HAICU, UCT’s center that aims to ‘co-ordinate HIV/AIDS interventions in curriculum development, public activities, student orientation and community partnerships.’ They run this workshop with health-sciences students as part of their curriculum, and wanted to test how a bunch of engineers would benefit from this type of workshop.

I have to say, even if we weren’t paid R100 and given quite an awesome snack-lunch, it definitely would not have been a waste of day! Coming from a medical family, with a dad who has done a ton of work relating to HIV/AIDS, and having sat through hours of HIV/AIDS awareness campaigning, I believed that I knew everything that I needed to know about the condition. I was shocked to find how many points I was unclear of down-right misinformed about! The role-playing activities were quite fun too, something that I can use to jazz up my EWB meetings. (not that they aren’t riveting as it is!)
The last lecture was the one that interested me the most. A section 21 company (which means it’s an NGO), Cell Life gave a talk about what they do. Basically, its a group of ‘techies’ and engineers who develop methods and software to ‘improve the lives of people who are infected and affected by HIV in South Africa through appropriate use of mobile technology’. Basically, they realize that health-care personnel are great at delivering health-care directly, but kinda suck at making systems of service delivery work well. Piles of paper medical-records and histories of patients (that are often lost at the detriment of the patient) have been replaced by simple and reliable computer software, taking seconds to access. Whats even better, is that patients can get their updates and info of HIV/AIDS sent to their cellphones, or on MXIT!!! It seems so simple and obvious that systems like these are needed, but can you believe that before Cell Life, the paper trail ran long and wide? Check them out:
So why am I oh-so-excited about all of this? My thesis that I’m going to start in the next few months is…drum-roll…dealing with service delivery systems in public healthcare, and I was hoping to choose an ARV (HIV treatment) clinic as my guinea pig! I love it when stuff like this happens, the way that when I sit back, relax and just know things will work out, they generally do.
As a last thought, I got an email offering me a great opportunity and the chance to be a part of something really awesome recently. Although I was completely psyched about it, I couldn’t help feeling like I already have too many commitments. I mean, when will I get time to do stuff like blog, or shower??? But a wise person told me this, and it completely sold me…”In ten, twenty years time, you won’t regret the things you have done, only the things you haven’t done”. So I will rage, rage until the dying of the light, no regrets, no fear, just live it.