In writing a blog for public consumption (even if the public consists of a single individual – or no one) there is an easy trap to fall into which is that it is cool to be critical. We can get lulled into a feeling of intelligent superiority by our ‘sharp’ observations. It is the case that one is drawn to pointing out the failings and negatives of things partly on the same principle that drives the television news (the bad news as my parents were wont to refer to it) which is that good news doesn’t get people’s attention in the way that disasters or major crimes do. We all experience schadenfreude to a greater or lesser extent but most of us are also genuinely sympathetic to the plights of others and thankful that it didn’t happen to us. At its extreme it triggers, by accident or design a wish to help the victims.
This brief ramble reflects the fact that I am aware that most of what has appeared in this blog to date may be read as having a trace of cynicism in it. This is an unbalanced reflection of my thoughts and experiences on this South Africa trip and from previous ones, so to redress this I should say that in the middle of what is a major health crisis, that of AIDS, in this country there are many very remarkable organisations and literally heroic individuals doing things which are quite extraordinary.
Here are just a few examples. Many have websites so Google them and read and admire; in no particular order:- Hugo Tempelman and the Ndlovu health care project, the Right to Care charity and the monumental contribution to HIV clinical care in places like Jo’burg, the incredible taxi rank project, again in Jo’burg; it would be invidious not to name Brian Brink who, amongst other pioneering acts, engineered Anglo American to provide anti HIV therapy to all employees and their families – this at a time when the politicians were saying HIV didn’t cause AIDS.
Finally in this short posting, in the few days I have been here, the staff at Zithulele. The positivity and enthusiasm and the sense of a team with a purpose infuses the whole place. Whatever it is that drives each of them, all of these are good and inspirational people. The world needs more like them.