Africa with Clinton: South Africa (Day 9)
Thank God for a late start this morning. Call time is 12:30pm. Thank you Jesus! We had the option of visiting the Apartheid Museum this morning, but since I’d already done that on a previous trip, I elected to stay in and enjoy my lovely room. Slept late and enjoyed a leisurely morning, listening to my meditations, responding to email, and sitting on all the furniture in the living room. LOL.
Met the group for lunch and then we headed out. First stop: a CHAI Clinic visit in Pretoria, about a 90 minute drive from our hotel. This particular clinic focused on work with HIV/AIDS clients, though they treat other health issues as well. The South African government has only recently allowed the international medical community to assist them with the HIV/AIDS epidemic that roils the country.
In the post-apartheid era, as HIV/AIDS was gaining a foothold in the community, the government refused to offer any treatment or assistance to people with HIV/AIDS. They believed that the HIV virus had been manufactured by oppressive regimes to annihilate black people, and that the treatment drugs being promoted were not actually intended to help patients, but, in fact, would make patients worse and speed their deaths. It has only been very recently — just in the last couple of years — that the government has been receptive to even entertaining treatment, care, and prevention assistance for people living with HIV/AIDS.
The CHAI clinic in Pretoria is one of the facilities that the South African government has allowed to operate to address the HIV issue. (CHAI stands for Clinton Health Access Initiative.) At this site visit, the Minister of Health announced that the government was committing funds to expand the clinic’s facilities so that it would accommodate more clients. It was a major coup!
After this visit, we headed to the Pretoria Campgrounds for a Conversation with Changemakers, sponsored by the Clinton Foundation and the Nelson Mandela Foundation. Six African businesspersons, entrepreneurs, and non-profit leaders shared the stage with Bill and Chelsea Clinton to discuss various community development initiatives. The audience was filled with South Africans, many of whom lined up to ask a variety of questions. The event was live-streamed and several questions came from on-line viewers. Nice event.
Back to the hotel … got there just in time for my 10pm (south african time) conference call with Elder Bernice King to discuss the 50th Anniversary events. That call lasted for an hour and some changed. By the time we were done, it was near 1130pm, and I realized that I hadn’t eaten since lunch. Because of my call, I’d missed the last delegation dinner with Clinton, but, as the saying goes, I had to make the doughnuts (i.e, service my clients). Thank goodness for 24 hour room service! I called my butler — yes, I had a butler!!!!! — and a club sandwich arrived in no time at all.
Was up til 3am (south african time), packing for the last time and responding to email about the 50th. Gotta get my team answers and give them direction on some things since I’ll be flying back to the States most of tomorrow and may not be able to respond to them at all. 330am, I finally crashed out.