About the Trip: Global First Responder is proud to partner once more with Dr Errol Visser, FCFP FRCEM, and Dr Harry Surtie Hospital, a district level hospital in Upington, South Africa to provide surgical ophthalmology care for patients where pterygia and cataracts are the main cause of reversible blindness.  Following 3 years of negotiation, Dr Visser has obtained permission to bring an ophthalmology surgical team to the hospital, to assist with the surgical backlog. A general medicine team will also be deployed to the farming areas of the Northern Cape, bordering on Namibia within the Kalahari, which, at 60 million years, is the second oldest desert on earth.  GFR will bring a group of 4 team members, including 2 ED physicians, 1 physiotherapist, and 1 nutritionist from the United States to partner with Dr Visser’s multidisciplinary team of South African physicians, ophthalmology surgeons, social workers, dietician, physiotherapist and non-medical volunteers. The weather is expected to be hot and dry (95 – 104 F).  The area is malaria free.   
 
Sustainability: Building on work started in 2021, the emphasis of the mission is to augment mainly nurse-led health care in the farming communities of the Northern Cape which are far flung from most referral centres. Our emphasis is to bring a multi-disciplinary team to the community, to bring a different expertise to bear and to effect appropriate referrals while also assisting to strengthen existing healthcare networks towards sustainability of our efforts.  We will be conducting clinics at the farms where the workers and their families are mostly migrants from neighbouring provinces.  At the same time, the ophthalmology team will be performing ophthalmology surgeries at the provincial hospital based in Upington, thereby realizing our ‘vision’ of reducing a backlog of cases, as well as assisting in coordinating a provincial and inter-provincial collaboration for ophthalmology services. 
 
The Northern Cape is a large geographic area with isolated town,  harsh climatic conditions, and a healthcare system with poor geographic reach.  For most, the healthcare system is inaccessible with long waiting times and limited transportation options.  Specific to ophthalmology, there is currently a waiting list of up to 1000 patients needing surgeries for pterygia and cataracts.  
 
GFR’s partnership with Dr. Visser has helped bring much needed education on gender based violence, domestic violence and substance abuse to the farming communities of the Northern Cape.  The population are descendants of the San, one of the oldest civilizations known to us The San peoples, or Bushmen, are members of various Khoe, Tuu, or Kxʼa-speaking indigenous hunter-gatherer cultures that are the first cultures of Southern Africa, and whose territories span Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa. Due to economic and cultural persecution, they have now been relegated to the poorest of the communities. Their culture goes back 30 000 years in this area.

The Northern Cape is a large geographic area with isolated towns, harsh arid semi-desert climatic conditions with an agricultural ribbon alongside the Orange River, and a healthcare system with poor geographic reach.  For most, the healthcare system is inaccessible with long waiting times and limited transportation options.  Specific to ophthalmology, there is currently a waiting list of up to 1000 patients needing surgeries for pterygia and cataracts.  

GFR’s partnership with Dr Visser and his team has helped bring much needed education on gender-based violence, domestic violence and substance abuse to the farming communities of the Northern Cape.  The population are descendants of the San, one of the oldest civilizations reaching back to the Early Stone Age. The San peoples, or Bushmen, are members of various Khoe, Tuu, or Kxʼa-speaking indigenous hunter-gatherer cultures that are the first cultures of Southern Africa, and whose territories span Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho and South Africa. Due to economic and cultural persecution, they have now been relegated to the poorest of the communities. Their culture goes back 30 000 years in this area.

What’s Included: Your fee will cover your lodging, transportation and food.  All your funds will be used locally in the villages where we are working.   In addition to your donation, GFR will provide a separate donation to our partner organization for medications and general supplies.

What’s Not Included:  Your international airfare, snacks and drinks other than water, and pre/post trip travel costs and expenses are not included in the cost of your trip.
 
How is your cost calculated?: At Global First Responder we strive to keep your costs low and our quality high.   We value your participation and willingness to volunteer your time and expertise. Everyone at Global First Responder is also a volunteer, donating their time to administrative tasks and paying their own way to participate in medical and construction missions around the world and here at home.  The fee you pay covers the actual cost of your expenses in country including lodging, transportation, meals, and translator fees and expenses.  At GFR, no one is paid a salary and everyone is a passionate volunteer, doing our part to help drive our mission of “One World, One Family”.
 
Cost: You are only responsible for your airfare for this trip.  Please purchase airfare that meets the required arrival and departure times.  We always suggest giving yourself extra time for delayed or cancelled flights and that you purchase trip insurance from a reputable carrier.  This trip is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.  You or your donors will receive a tax receipt upon making your donation.
 
Arrivals and Departures for the Medical/Dental Team:  This trip officially starts on October 2
  • October 1: Arrive in Cape Town and overnight “on your own” or arrive before 8am on October 2. 
  • October 2: Arrive in Cape Town to meet the team’s ground transportation to the Northern Cape.  Expect a 10 hour drive (~800 km) to your clinic location.
  • October 3 – 8: Clinics on 5 different large farms and surgeries in Upington.  Room and board at a local farm (surgical team will be based near the hospital).
  • October 9:  Return to Cape Town by road 
    • ******please note:  you can fly to Johannesburg but will need to find your own transportation to the final destination, or to meet the team in Cape Town. We suggest that you fly to Cape Town. Hiring a car in Johannesburg and driving too Cape Town is also possible with good roads and interesting towns to visit along the way. 

      Click here to apply for this trip:  I want to join the GFR team providing relief for South Africa 

       

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