This past Thursday, afternoon of 28 May 2020, after a couple of weeks of careful preparation, Goedgedacht’s COVID-19 Recovery Centre opened with a bang! Without prior notification, an ambulance arrived at our Leadership Academy recovery unit, with our first guest. The staff who were on standby on the farm were all a bit startled. Although we had prepared ourselves for this moment for weeks, when it suddenly arrived, all of us experienced a bag of mixed emotions… fear, anxiety, and at the same time a sense of deep compassion with our first guest. In full protective gear, the very professional ambulance staff escorted him to his room. What cut deep though, was that he was very conscious about his status, covering his face as to not make direct contact with any of the staff and put them at risk of infection.
Memories of the beginning of South Africa’s AIDS pandemic came flooding back. I remembered how people were stigmatized when infected by HIV. And I recalled the pain and hardship. Never can we allow anybody to be stigmatized in the same way again.
I called the patient by his title and surname. He stopped. “Welcome to Goedgedacht’s Recovery Centre” I said. “I hope you are going to be very happy while staying at Goedgedacht. I wish it was possible to greet you by hand”. He waved at me and smiled. “I can assure you that our cook will prepare very tasty meals,” I said. “I hope you will be comfortable”. He responded with “Thank you that you are kind to me. I feel welcome. It is a good place to be. I think I will recover quickly”.
I am so very proud of the Goedgedacht staff. Our chef Joslyn Van Rooyen, is serving the tastiest meals to our now 6 guests. On Sunday morning she baked them croissants. I could not help but be a bit jealous. Jacques Williams is using his years in the hospitality industry to welcome our guests and make them comfortable.
As to be expected, we are experiencing teething problems. We are learning as we go along. We are slowly finding our rhythm and things become easier and less scary. The fear reduces as we connect with the people who are affected. We realize that we are all very vulnerable.
When we become ill, we will need kindness. It is this reality that inspires and energizes us to be kind to everyone in the Goedgedacht Recovery Centre.
Many thanks to all our donors and funders for their support in making all that we aspire to do, become a reality.