Today, I am glad I have my family.

I’d like to say, first of all, that I am distraught about what has happened in Newtown, Connecticut today. I was on the verge of tears for over an hour, watching the BBC live broadcast, and the tears finally broke when Obama mentioned the families that won’t be able to hug their children tonight. I know this means very little, but my arms are open to those families today and for the years to come. I can’t even imagine what Christmas will be like for these families, as I’m sure there are presents hidden away for the young children who died today. Just writing this is making me cry again. I have cousin within the age group in a town about half an hour’s drive away, and one of the interviewed children sounded just like him. I don’t know what I would have done if the shooting was at his school, and I haven’t even seen him for about two years. I can’t imagine how the town of Newport is going to sleep tonight. My deepest, deepest sympathies…

Now, I almost don’t feel right writing this, so I’m going to keep it short – a little bit of good personal news to try to lighten the mood of this post. My parents finally sold their house in Surrey. It was on the market for almost a year, with two potential buyers backing out at the last minute due to financial reasons. The third buyer signed the contracts today, and it’s such a relief, for them and for me. I’ve been told I can worry too much, but I will be the first to admit that I’m very protective of those that I’m close to – family and friends. So I’m very happy for my family, as I know they’ve had a bit of a tough couple years, and everything is turning around for them now. (It might just be for me too, but more on that in another post.) I love them to bits, and I don’t know what I’d do without them. It’s hard enough living so far away from them!

Back in the UK.

I took a look around Stellenbosch University on Monday. I wish I had done my undergraduate degree there, although it wouldn’t really have been in Stellenbosch, so maybe not. The OT department is over in Cape Town. My cousin took me around Stellenbosch and showed me the university grounds. They were amazing. Even though it’s winter down there, it was warm and sunny, and I could just imagine myself lying out in the sun with my books. He’s doing a master’s in industrial engineering, and he showed me the massive collection of engineering buildings.

He also introduced me to a few lecturers there that might be able to help me sort out a masters for myself within the engineering department. One suggested Engineering Management, which would look at the implementation of technology and devices, testing their usability. I’m sure OT could apply there! The other was a researcher within the mechatronic/biomedical engineering department, and he was personally creating an app (iOS and Android) that, with the help of a few sensors, could monitor maternal health and predict eclampsia. I was so inspired by this lecturer to think of my own ideas for rehabilitation devices, as you might have guessed that I am a big believer in telerehabilitation, or simply getting the regular exercise that a weekly OT/PT sessions can’t quite provide. However, he also said that it wouldn’t be a simple programme for me to fit into. For a start, I don’t have the engineering background, so I’d have to do a few classes to at least get a basic understanding. At Stellenbosch, you need to achieve a certain number of credits, even when doing a research masters. So I’d need to work with various departments to tailor my degree to my needs and interests, getting credits from engineering, OT, maths and possibly human biology classes.

Sounds like my kind of fun.

Volunteering with a South African charity.

Today, after getting monumentally lost trying to find this place, I met the OT who works at Bethesda, a charity hospice, inpatient unit and children’s home in George, South Africa. She took me around and introduced me to some of the staff, patients and projects before sitting me down and telling me what Bethesda needed and could offer me.

Let me first just tell you about a project they’re currently trying to complete but don’t have the funding for. No one has asked me to tell you, just so you know, but I thought it was a great idea. They can care for up to 45 children, orphans or vulnerable, and they currently house most of these children in a dormitory-style old building. Their plan is to move these children into houses with ‘parents’, up to about 10 children per house. The aim of this is to give the children a sense of belonging within a ‘family’, and it’ll mean that the children almost have their own room, only having to share one room between 2-3 children. So far, they have completed two houses. A third is almost completed, but they ran out of funds. I don’t know if anyone feels inclined to support Bethesda, but if you are, you can find out more about them here and donate here. If you’re in South Africa, they would really appreciate clothes, toiletries, etc. for their patients as well; just scroll down to the wishlist. I’m going to take some old clothes of my own for the children’s home.

Now, the plan for my volunteering?

I love babies. The more I think about it, the more I’d love to work with babies, maybe in a NICU. So I was very happy to assure the OT that I’d work with the babies in the inpatient unit. I’ve also asked to work with the OT assistant when she works with the inpatient adults, as I have no experience with people with stroke, HIV/AIDS, cancer, etc. I’d really like to have some experience with rehabilitation and palliative care. This is me being proactive!

So my first official day is Monday, and I have to again find this place by 8:30am. Google Maps was no help this morning!