South Africa marks World MS Day

La Femme Correspondent

MULTIPLE sclerosis support organisations in 47 countries – including South Africa – will be celebrating World Multiple Sclerosis Day today. Started in 2009, the day is to raise awareness of MS as a global issue and raise funds to support the work of the global MS movement including research.

MS is an illness of the central nervous system that cannot be cured and often has a devastating effect on the life of the person with it, his or her family and friends.

Irene, 49, a long term survivor, remembers: “When I was 16, I suddenly realised I was blind in one eye. Fortunately a cortisone shot brought my sight back, but that was the start of a long struggle with a disease that constantly surprises me with attacks on different parts of my body.”

Barbara, 46, says: “I worked very hard to develop my career as a professional scientist but MS destroyed my career and I was boarded.”

Thembi says: “My daughter got sick at 13, was diagnosed at 14 and died at 17. It just upset me that I couldn’t do more for her.”

Nadine, 50, says: “Now I walk holding onto walls and furniture – I used to be a very active person but for five years I haven’t been out the house. I loved the kitchen and I loved to cook but now I can’t stand. My partner is an angel – he baths me, he does everything for me.”

The MS Society of South Africa estimates there are about 5000 people living with MS in this country. However, because of the stigma of the disease and the difficulties of diagnosis, no one is sure just how many people are suffering from this debilitating disease.

Those living with MS have to take regular immune-modulating medications which are extremely costly. At the same time, medical research continues with many new medications being tested and being reported as wonder drugs.

Some of these will cost at least R 250000 a year if they become available in South Africa. Other miracle drugs have merely sped up the disease or caused serious side effects. Neurologists treating people with MS are cautious as every person responds differently to the drugs available, and many are still in expensive and lengthy trials.

The MS Society of South Africa runs a 24-hour helpline. A qualified social worker is available through the Sophiatown-based offices of the Inland Branch which covers Gauteng, North West, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and the Free State.

Knowing who has MS in South Africa and where they live is critical to monitoring the disease and lobbying government and other stakeholders for better services. Information is handled confidentially by the MSSA and it is keen to get in touch with those who are suffering from the disease but may not be aware that support is available.

People with MS, their families, caregivers, loved ones, the medical fraternity and social workers all make use of this service for information and support around the illness.

MSSA can be contacted 24 hours a day on 0860-456-772 (leave a message and your call will be returned soonest) or e-mail:


MS  is an illness of the central nervous system. For unknown reasons, the immune system attacks the body, causing damage to the myelin coating around nerves, causing messages from the brain not to reach their destination.

The cause is unknown but all MS sufferers experience fatigue, find it hard to balance , and may find all or some of their senses suddenly not working.

There is no cure for MS, but immune-modulating medications have become first-line treatment.

MS symptoms include, but are not limited to, extreme fatigue, visual changes, walking problems, tremor, bladder and bowel problems, sensory changes, speech and swallowing difficulties, mood changes and memory.

Confirm any suspected diagnosis with a MS specific neurologist as soon as possible.

MS is diagnosed by neurologists using a clinical approach: MRI, past history, symptoms experienced neurological exams, blood tests, evoked potential testing and lumbar puncture.

Amongst others, the following celebs have/had MS:

Richard Pryor, Teri Garr, Fraser Robinson III (father of Michelle Obama)


The Human Spirit

The Human Spirit

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 29 May 2012: 5 years 8 months on … Deuce

Not one of us chooses to come into this world.

Biologically speaking, we come into this world because of a choice made by our parents!

Once we enter this world, if we are “lucky”, approximately the first quarter of our life is spent preparing for life, the next two quarters are spent living life and the fourth quarter is spent in “retirement”.  

Once we are in this life, the ride is not easy, and the choices along the way are ones that we make. We can blame no one else for the route that we take. What we make of this life is our responsibility. What we do with the talents that we receive lies in our hands and our hands alone.

Over the last two weeks, I have had the privilege of watching school rugby against Graeme College in Grahamstown and St Andrews College from Grahamstown in Port Elizabeth. Phillip has been playing and Sean has been refereeing and coaching.

The human race possesses the most amazing athletic ability (well, some people do!).

But the human race also possesses the most unbelievable artistic ability. I suppose it is that which sets us apart from other living species.

I had the privilege of listening to the Hospice’s Last Night of the Proms at the Feathermarket Hall last Sunday.

Philharmonic Orchestra, singers, conductors, soloists, Pipe band, dancers, organists, marimbist, violins, violas, cellos, double bass, flutes, oboes, bassoons, trumpets, horns, trombones, tubas, keyboards, percussion instruments – all moulded together into a harmony of the most soothing of sounds. I can transport myself out of my paralyzed body into another world!

The music of so many talented people who have gone before us is on the programme – Strauss, Horner, Williams, Handel, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Rossini, Grieg, Parry, Elgar … the list is endless.

I also had the privilege last Tuesday evening of watching The Port Elizabeth Gilbert & Sullivan Society’s presentation of the musical Evita.

Again, acting, music, lyrics, staging, orchestra, direction, costume design, choreography, dancing, lighting, sound – all moulded together into a professional production of visual and auditory superlatives. Once again, I can transport myself into another world!

The talents that we have received know no bounds.

But all of these talents pale into insignificance when I compare them to the strength of the Human Spirit with which we have been imbued.

Over the years I have had the privilege of meeting many people who have risen above the adversity of life and who have managed to succeed. Every new day, I meet more such people.

I am busy reading the book Man’s Search for Meaning authored (another of the artistic talents that we possess) by Viktor Frankl, survivor of the Nazi concentration camps.

It tells the tale of the extremities of human suffering, but also the tale of the amazing powers of human endurance.

Man can endure so long as it makes sense to him to go on living: “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”

“Men and women can be set free from despair and find new courage to face circumstances which seemed beyond them.”

It’s that which also sets us apart from the other species.

It gives me courage to continue the fight.



Age is also in the Eye of the Beholder

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Friday 18 May 2012: 5 years 8 months on … Deuce

For some time now I have been reading up on the history of the Grey Institute (which was the fore-runner of today’s Grey High and Grey Junior Schools in Port Elizabeth).

The history of “The Institute” is, to a large degree, the history of our city, Port Elizabeth, which we all know commenced when the 1820 Settlers landed here on the shores of Algoa Bay from Britain almost 200 years ago.

Why this interest in history?

Firstly, because it would appear to me that the older one becomes the more you pay an interest in your past. And when you have a terminal illness and you are facing the end of your earthly journey, that past starts playing an even more important role in your life.

But, secondly, the reason for reading so much is because Lindsay Pearson, headmaster of Grey Junior asked me many years ago now (I must admit) to try and settle an age-old dilemma: just how old is Grey Junior School?

So, I have spent many hours reading and delving into the past.

There are many books, many records and many stories.

In the final analysis, the age of the school is in the eye of the beholder … why do I say this?

The human race has developed many conventions over the years that we all accept as fact. For example, we all accept that the age of a person is calculated from the day that person was born – their birth date which becomes their birthday!

 An argument could be made that the age could be calculated from the date of that person’s conception, i.e. add nine months to everyone’s age currently calculated from their conventional birthday and make them just a little bit older!

Another argument could be made, as in the case of our youngest son Phillip who was born at twenty seven weeks (some three months prematurely), that his age should be calculated from his supposed birth date in September 1995 rather than the July 1995 in which he was born. In which case, we would have to subtract three months from his current age of 16 years and 10 months and make him just a little bit younger! (Bad luck for that pending learner’s licence at age 17!)

However, we all accept the convention – human age is calculated from date of birth. No arguments!

Not so in the case of schools. There is just no publicly accepted convention that determines when a school is born and hence what event starts its age clock ticking.

In most cases, schools (or rather the people that manage them) determine arbitrarily what event to use as their date of birth. It all depends on how old they want to be – do they want to be wise and aged (like a good whiskey) and to be seen as the doyen of those schools around them, or are they vain (like humans) and pretend to be “Forever Young”.

So, in the case of Grey Bloemfontein, for example, in order to make themselves the patriarch of the pack, they adopted the date (1855) on which Sir George Grey wrote out a personal cheque in order to establish the school in Bloemfontein as their birthday.

Queen’s College in Queenstown uses, as their birth date, the date (1858) when the Cape Colony government took over an already existing private school.

Grey High Port Elizabeth originally used, as their birth date, the day in 1859 on which classes commenced in the new Institute Building that was erected on The Hill. They celebrated their 50th birthday in 1909 and then sometime, thereafter, decided to make themselves three years older when they adopted 4 June 1856 as their birth date. That was the date on which the bill establishing the Grey Institute, ”Act No 6, 1856: An Act for Regulating the Public Schools in Port Elizabeth upon the Grey Foundation”, was passed in Parliament in Cape Town and signed into law (assented to) by Sir George Grey, the then Governor of the Cape Colony.

So where does the current Grey Junior School fit in?

In trying to make a valid decision, one’s mind tends to be clouded by the educational terms, rules, policies and conventions of today. However, one needs to take the following into consideration:

In the years 1820 onwards, Port Elizabeth was in a British colony at the southern tip of Africa known as the Cape Colony. There was not a united South Africa until 1910.

There were no structured education departments, school boards, school committees, governing bodies, etc, as we know them today. Privately established schools were the order of the day. Each often determined its own policies and procedures, and these were usually left in the hands of individual teachers and headmasters, and church ministers and town councillors. Over the years, these establishing principles developed into uniform policies and educational standards that we are accustomed to today.    

Port Elizabeth was a little village of only some thirty years old when discussions were started to create some educational order and to establish a new government school. The total population of the village was some 2000 people – less than the number of people (teachers and staff) who today occupy the Mill Park campus of the Grey Schools!

Children often went to school when they were as young as four years of age and most of them left by the age of twelve to go and work. Words like Elementary School in those days referred to those very youngsters and High School referred to children often from as young as eight to twelve years old. (The change-over from Elementary to High was not determined by age but by ability – to read, write and do arithmetic. The change-over criteria constantly altered over the years. Standards (Grades, as we know them today), jockeyed up and down – sometimes being part of the elementary school and sometimes part of the high school.)

Be that as it may, then, when the Act to establish the Grey Institute was assented to in 1856, it made provision for elementary and a high school. In fact, the “elementary” school opened its doors to learning on 1 February 1859, two months prior to classes starting in the “high school” on 4 April 1859.

From the beginning, the elementary “feeder” school to the “senior” high school was housed in the same Institute building (the current MSC head office on the Port Elizabeth Donkin.) As the dividing line, the requirements and enrolment of the senior school changed, the physical location of the elementary school changed.

Over the years, the Elementary Division (School) moved in the same building from one floor to another and from one wing to another.

In later years it moved from that original Institute Building to another totally separate building, and then back to that Institute Building when the High School moved in 1915 to the present Mill Park campus. Finally, when it too outgrew the Institute Building, it also moved in 1930 to its present Mill Park Building on the joint school campus.

During all of those years, the Elementary School Division was in a lesser or greater manner under the authority of the High School Division, but both being parts of the “Grey Institute”.

In 1930, when standardised Union of South Africa educational policies required change, the Grey High School and Grey Junior School came into being as two autonomous schools – each with its own School Committee.

So when was Grey Junior School born? How long is a piece of string?

With no standardised convention in place, the “date of birth” becomes a subjective decision.

It could be:

  • ·         The day when John Patterson established the first public school in Port Elizabeth (1841)
  • ·         The day when a decision was made to establish the Grey Institute (1855)
  • ·         The day when the bill was passed in Parliament to establish the Institute (1856)
  • ·         The day when classes started on The Hill (1859)
  • ·         The day when the elementary division “moved down the road” to a separate building (1908)
  • ·         The day when the division moved back into the Institute Building by itself (1915)
  • ·         The day when it moved to the Mill Park campus (1930)
  • ·         The day when it became the autonomous “Grey Primary School” (1931)

My view is that Grey Junior School grossly underestimates its age as being a “youngster” of 82. 

If wisdom and experience come with age then it should put itself up there in the company with the schools and the sages of time, as does Grey High School.  It should recognize its birth date as 4 June 1856, the date of the passing of that bill that founded the Grey Institute and would change the educational landscape of Port Elizabeth and indeed South Africa forever.

In the case of human beings, no one would argue that separated Siamese Twins should consider their birthday as the day on which they were separated and commenced living autonomously.

Least of all, would we argue that one’s birth date was the day on which it was born and the other’s the day on which it was separated from its twin.

To me, it makes perfect sense to argue that Siamese twin’s age is calculated from their date of birth rather than their date of separation.

My vote: Grey Junior was born in 1856 together with its twin Grey High (maybe with just two months head start and experience on the High School if one considers when each started breathing with commencement of classes!).

I can’t wait to see at the top of Grey Junior School letterheads: “Founded in 1856”!

Happy 156th Birthday, Grey Junior School, next month on Monday 4 June 2012!


By the way, as we are talking birthdays:

Happy 20th birthday Sean, on Sunday 20 May 2012.

(That is, of course, if we are calculating your birthday from when you were born in 1992 and not from the previous August in 1991 when you were conceived!)

(When I received my health news six years ago, I had never hoped to see you leave your teens. We are both truly blessed to be able to celebrate another milestone together. See you at your 21st next year!)



To the Grey Classes of 1987 and 1992

Tuesday 15 May 2012: 5 years 8 months on …

Dear Classes of 1987 and 1992

Firstly, let me congratulate you on the magnificent reunion weekend that you organized. Everything flowed so smoothly and seamlessly, but I know that a lot of hard work and effort went into making it happen. I am sure that everyone enjoyed the various functions that they attended.

Secondly, I would like to thank the classes for inviting me to share in your reunion with you. It is very rewarding for a teacher to observe the results of his handiwork and to know that, in part, he has been responsible in shaping their future. You can be justly proud of the contribution, small or large, that you individually have made to your families, your communities, your school, your country and your world. The Classes of 1987 and 1992 have certainly continued the tradition of raising the bar to new heights!

I shall wear your class shirts with fond memories of the very special years, 1984 – 1988, that I had the privilege of teaching and getting to know many of you at The Grey.

In 1859, the very first year that classes were taught at the brand new Grey Institute on The Hill, the Governor of the Cape Colony, Sir George Grey, was recalled to London. The Staff and boys of the school wrote to him expressing their regret at his departure and “gratitude for the benefits he had conferred upon them”.

He replied to them as follows:

Gentlemen and Students

Your letter at expressing your regret at my departure is one of the most gratifying which I have received. Every man desires to aid in blessing others, and in doing good; but it is not given to many men to see such early fruits springing from those labours in which they themselves and others have engaged. God has, in the case of the Institution from which you write, given me this pleasure, and has allowed me to hear that, from the Grey Institute, and from amongst yourselves, good and able men have come forth.

If any of you who have done credit to the Institution, require a friend in Europe, remember that you are, in some sort, children of mine, and have a claim upon my sympathy and aid which I shall not overlook.

From your affectionate friend

G. Grey

I am pleased that from the Classes of 1987 and 1992 “good and able men have come forth”. G. Grey, your affectionate friend, whose mortal remains lie in St Paul’s Cathedral in London, must also take great pleasure to see the fruits springing from his labours.

There are many life lessons, but one which I recall is the fact that “time comes to an end”.

My teaching time at The Grey, about which we reminisced so much this weekend, came to an end in 1988, our weekend together came to an end all too quickly, and, indeed, our time on this earth will come to an end.

During that time, life will hand us many different “Dear Johns”. Many of you are aware of my illness. I will most probably not see some of you again.

As a young teacher, just a few years older than yourselves, I taught you mathematics and computer studies, but I don’t think we ever spoke about life.

In some sort, you are also “children of mine”. If I may then, let me give you one last lesson: Let me encourage you to make the most of each and every day. Live for the moment. Live each day as if it were your last, because some day it will be!

 Until we meet again … thank you for the memories.


 Ed Lunnon

Where the Land meets the Sky

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 15 May 2012: 5 years 8 months on … Advantage CBD

There are a number of “Queenstowns” in various countries in the world.

Our Queenstown, nicknamed the Rose Capital of South Africa and almost in the middle of the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, was founded in 1853 and is named after Britain’s Queen Victoria.

The layout of Queenstown reflects its original objective as a defensive stronghold for the frontier area on the Border and has a most unusual design. There is a central hexagonal area where canon or rifle fire could be directed down six thoroughfares radiating from the centre. The canon sites have now been replaced with gardens and a central fountain was the dominant feature. A striking abstract sculpture replaced the fountain as part of the town’s 150th anniversary. The Hexagon still exists, with the outer road surrounding and encircling it named Robinson Road.

I have visited Queenstown on many occasions. The first time was at the age of eight (?) when, as a family, we caravanned through the country, from Cape Town to Bloemfontein to East London and back to Cape Town.  We stopped over in the Queenstown caravan park – more or less where the Casino and shopping centre is now. Then, I visited my sister Ingrid and brother-in-law Anton when I was in the army in 1982 and they taught there. When I started teaching in Port Elizabeth in 1984, we visited Queenstown bi-annually and, in my business life, I did numerous business visits – almost fortnightly! As a parent from Junior School days (from 2002), we also visited bi-annually – every even year.

I haven’t been there in the last two years – not since our last school visit in 2010.

But, last Friday, we travelled to Queenstown again. The reason for our trip was to meet the big canons – not those on the Hexagon – but those at Queen’s College. Our Grey High School boys were to take on the might of the boys of the College in the annual encounter of sporting and cultural disciplines.

Queens’s College is the oldest school on the Border. A Mr C.E. Ham set up a private school for boys, the Prospect House Academy. In 1858 it was taken over by the state as the Queenstown District School. That year is taken as the foundation date for Queen’s College and Queens is, therefore, just two years younger than our own Grey Schools – founded in 1856.

The venue for this encounter alternates on an annual basis: one year in Port Elizabeth and the next in Queenstown. As Phillip is now in his second last year at school, this trip to Queenstown would be our last to watch the games there!

Queenstown lies some 400km north-east of Port Elizabeth and there are a number of routes one can take to get there. 

From the Sunshine Coast through the Great Karoo: we chose the N10 north to Cradock and then the R61 north-east to Queenstown. However, we broke the trip, after an hour and a half’s travelling, at Middleton and stayed over on Friday evening with Colin and Michelle van Niekerk on their dairy farm Monterrey. (Their son Hugh was with Sean at Grey and Angus is Phillip’s vintage.)

Saturday was an early-morning start just as the mist was beginning to lift. The sun was starting to rise over that spot where the land meets the sky in the east and the vapour was rising up into the cold air over the relatively warmer water of the numerous farm dams. The darker mountains were silhouetted against the lighter azure of the pre-dawn sky.

It’s in scenes like this in the Heart of the Karoo that you discover your soul and more.

 It took another two and a half hours through Cradock and Tarkastad (where Pera taught for five years) to get to Queenstown, arriving there just after 09h00 and in good time for Phillip’s rugby game.

Phillip’s team won, as did all the other high school teams in the morning (except the Fourth’s). After lunch came the third rugby team (won), seconds (drew), and then the big one of the day: the Grey High School for Boys First XV against the Queens College Boys’ High School First XV.

At the turn into the second half of that match, life could not have been better for the Grey supporters. The score was 19 – 3 in Grey’s favour and we were riding the crest of the wave.

Then, as in Life, just when you think that things can’t get any better, the rug gets pulled out from underneath you. The dominos fall one at a time!

From hero to zero …

A new referee, a yellow card, a send-off, a few strange decisions, and before you can say “Life’s not fair!” the score is 19 all!

And just when you think it can’t get any worse, there’s one final nail in the coffin: that try that would have put you on the winning track and changed the course of history, just isn’t a try.

Never count your chickens before they hatch, and never celebrate until the money’s in the bank.

In the dying moments, smoke rings in the sky, an up-raised finger to thank God and a beautiful swallow dive result in the ball being lost and the try not being a try!

 The score remains 19 – 19! Or does it?

Just to add insult to injury and to rub salt in the wounds, a final penalty to Queens in the closing seconds of the game adds three points to their score and the scoreboard tells the story of the Ecstasy and the Agony of the day:  Queens 22 Grey 19! 

It’s when you are down in Life, that the tests of your true self come. How do you handle adversity? How do you respond to challenging situations? How do you pick yourself up from the gutters? How do you start all over again?

Did we pass the test?

If playing sport is to teach us Life Lessons, then Queenstown, last Saturday, was the ideal Place of Higher Learning: 

adversity, appreciation, behaviour, consideration, conduct, commitment, challenge, discipline, effort, emotion, example, ethics, frustration, get-up-and-go, hard work, influence, integrity, joy, kindness, loyalty, morals, mania, norms, obsession, passion, perspective, perception, qualities, reproach, respect, support, standards, self-restraint, truth, uprightness, values, ways, xenophobia, yeomanliness, zeal …  

(Please add more!)

That Saturday evening at the Kudu (the School Pub), the Heritage Guesthouse, Dagwoods Diner and the direct four-hour trip back to Port Elizabeth on Sunday morning were not necessarily as loud and as excited at they would have been had we won.

But, maybe, we did win: in our loss, in this beautiful part of the world where the land meets the sky, we hopefully discovered our Soul and more!






CBD Diaries (from Yahoo CBD Support Group)


Fair Warning: (This is long and rambling, so I apologize in advance and warn you in advance if you don’t have time to read a long rambling note.) LOL. ~L

As you all know, my Mom didn’t like the diagnoses of two different neurologists who said “CBDG”… one who wrote a book on the subject even. She chose to get another opinion by going to several other doctors and then finally was able to get into “Shands” in Gainsville, FL. In her opinion, they are the only ones who would know better. They said that they “doubt” the CBD diagnosis and that’s all she needed to believe that she will be healed completely.

I’ve now lost count how many scans of all sorts that she’s had and each time she goes there, they give her a completely different “diagnosis” . Each diagnosis seems more and more “positive”, even though she steadily is going downhill. The only diagnosis that lines up perfectly, in MY opinion is the CBDG or PSP. That’s the only answer that makes total sense. Anything else is “… it COULD be related to something like… except THIS part…” or “…it’s sort of a little like this and a little like that…”

I’m hearing “…similar to Parkinson’s, but not…”, “… sort of like mini-strokes, but nothing showing on the scans…”, “…. sort of like Alzheimer’s, but not…”


Today’s latest (that she sounds almost excited about… in comparison…) is that there’s a mention on the DATscan report of “Essential Tremors from Parkinson syndrome”. She’s like, “See? That’s all it is. It won’t get worse.”

Of course I can’t see or read any of these reports or get to talk to any of the doctors that she’s seeing, so I’m totally in the dark except from her perception and her interpretation of what was said or what the report said.

I’m wondering if anyone else out there is going through or has gone through anything like this with their loved one? I mean, I know most of you have direct contact and close working/relationship with the person you care for, but I wonder if your loved one is still dealing with so much denial? I wonder now if it’s just ME… maybe I’m too pessimistic and it’s not all that bad like she thinks. I’m starting to feel like completely giving up as far as supporting her… mentally anyway… I mean, why bother doing all my focus, research, an care about CBD if she doesn’t have “anything”. Why do I even care, at this point? 😦  Afterall, it’s nothing.

I’ve been calling anyone I can think of there in Orlando trying to get her services and help…I told her that I’d like her to consider getting one of those “Hover round” things, but she said that she doesn’t want to “take that next step”. I guess that would be admitting something. She doesn’t seem to really want help, even though it sounds like she really, really needs help. My sister got her one of those emergency buttons for when she falls, but one of the last big fall was in the shower when she had taken off the button, fell backward into the shower and laid there for more than an hour before she was able to finagle her way out of the tub and up.

She’s by herself, she keeps falling backward and taking really hard hits, she can barely dress herself because her left hand no longer works (Alien hand), she can’t walk her dog (throws her delicate balance off) and my sister took away her car because she was getting too dangerous on the road, so she can only get places by walking or taking the bus. She can barely get groceries for herself and has been eating a lot of stuff like crackers… light to carry and no prep or heat needed. 😦 She’s lost a LOT of weight. 

Am I just driving myself crazy?? I can’t do anything, change anything, or fix anything, so should I just stop worrying about it and let the chips fall where they may? I’m making myself sick with worry and can’t do anything about it.

If you’ve read all this… bless you. And, thank you. ~L


Hospice Week

Tuesday 8 May 2012

5 years 8 months on … Deuce

The theme for this year’s Hospice Week is “Celebrating Partnerships”, as HPCA (Hospice Palliative Care Association) is celebrating 25 years of service. The mission of  Hospice is to promote quality in life, dignity in death and support in bereavement for all living with a life-threatening illness by supporting member hospices. In partnering with member hospices and partner organisations HPCA is able to reach out to more people who need palliative care in the country. This is one example of how the organisation relies on partnerships to provide palliative care, to promote awareness of it and for extending their expertise to reach the common goal. They rely heavily on partnerships with local and overseas funders, local government, generous corporate funders, partner and service organisations and volunteers. As the philosophy of palliative care reflects a multi-disciplinary approach, the patient’s doctor and the patient’s family are also considered to be partners in the care.

HPCA is a non-profit organisation that comprises 184 member hospices that independently provide palliative care to patients with life-threatening illnesses, including children with incurable illnesses such as AIDS and cancer. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), palliative care is “an approach that improves quality to life of patients and their families facing problems associated with life-threatening illnesses.”

Hospice Week is a national event which was included in the national Government health calendar will be celebrated from the 6 to 13 May 2012. These hospices will use Hospice Week to raise awareness of palliative care through various activities such as concerts and open days, and to highlight their essential services, which are provided regardless of race, culture, age or ability to pay. Hospice is a philosophy and not just a place as many people think. It is normally identified as “a place where people go to die” but through Hospice Week, we will be giving our 184 member hospices the opportunity to advocate what really takes place inside those buildings and in patients’ homes, where 98% of hospice care is given. In addition they offer care day care, support groups, in-patient units and training in palliative care.

To find out more about Hospice events or palliative care, please visit

Issued by Eric Watlington, of HPCA

Tel: 021 531 0277


Beauty and the Beast

©2012 Edward C. Lunnon

Tuesday 1 May 2012: 5 years 8 months on … Deuce

This has been yet another long weekend! Friday was a public holiday and today (Tuesday) yet another. The schools (and many people) took Monday off, too, so it’s been a break of 5 days for many! This break and the 4 day Easter weekend break that we had two weeks ago must play havoc with the South African economy.

But, who is complaining when, like us, you can head off down the coast to a magnificent place like Plettenberg Bay – just some 200 km west from Port Elizabeth.

We were off to visit our friends, the Bryants, there. The company was excellent, the weather was great and the magnificence of the natural beauty of the area is hard to beat.

There is the Robberg Peninsula jutting into the azure blue waters of the Indian Ocean , the white sands of the beaches that encircle the Bay of Plettenberg, the luscious green lands and forests, the slightly darker almost black waters of the Keurbooms and Bitou Rivers and then the dark blue of the Tsitsikamma Mountains framing it all off against the light blue of the clear sky.

It is certainly a natural picture postcard – one that needs no Photoshop or touching up to enhance its splendour.

We truly have a beautiful country. And it’s quite ironic that we should be spending Freedom Day here. It reminds me just how much fighting has taken place and blood has been spilt in this country in order for it to obtain its “freedom”. Both sides of the racial divide and the political spectrum have given much in order for us to enjoy what we have today.

This evening we went to see the movie “A Million Colours”. It is a South African production and I guess appropriate viewing on this our Freedom Day and Worker’s Day long weekend. It graphically brings home the sacrifices that ordinary people have made and are making in this country and around the world in the name of Freedom.

The film is an inspiring true story of danger, adventure, romance, betrayal and redemption, set against the turbulent background of a nation in crisis.

In 1976, when the Soweto riots broke out, Muntu Ndebele was the star of the classic film, e’Lollipop.

This sweeping romantic adventure is about that then-most famous teen black movie star in South Africa.  As the stars of ‘e’Lollipop,’ he and his white friend lived the dream, until the crisis of a nation tore them apart.

He’s separated from the love of his life, becomes a fugitive and a thief, and struggles to survive the Apartheid regime.

I wondered if our nation has come out of its crisis.

The fighting appears not to stop. In Afrikaans there is a saying “Twee honde baklei oor die been en die derde loop daarmee heen”. (Two dogs fight over a bone and a third one walks away with it.)

Is that the nature of the beast with which we are dealing? As the ordinary, good people of this country try going about their normal daily living, the politicians continue with their fighting.

Quo Vadis?