Tutu arranges visit to Tygerberg Children’s Hospital

Semester at Sea visit

Lynette Mdoda senior and junior, with Jessica Kagan.

Children at Tygerberg Children’s Hospital were delighted when a group of international students stopped by on 25 March for a visit to make them balloon figures of dogs, ladybirds and aliens.

This visit was initiated by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, the Patron of Tygerberg Children’s Hospital.

The students, who have been traveling on the ‘Semester at Sea’ cruise ship, docked in Cape Town, and headed straight for the hospital.

International studies student, Maddie Hodges, said they had heard about the good work the hospital has been doing from Archbishop Tutu, who has been guest lecturing on the ship, which has been travelling the world with 600 students on board.

American student, Jessica Kagan, who is taking a leadership course on the floating campus, brought her balloon kit along with her from the US. She’s been teaching her fellows students on the ship about the art of balloon twisting and said they wanted to do something that would bring some happiness to others.

“This is beautiful. I’m very happy that they came to see us,” said nine-year-old Lynette Mdoda, holding a ladybird made out of balloons. Mdoda has been in the infectious diseases ward for three weeks. Her grandmother, Lynette (senior) said the visit was a welcome break from routine.

Hodges said Tutu had stressed the importance of being open to others and said young people had the power to generate change.

“He’s a firm believer in the power of youth. Inspired by him, we also want to make a difference and learn about other cultures,” said Hodges, who is from North Carolina in the US.

Nurse, Monica Arendse, said visits like these meant a lot to the children.  “It takes them away from thinking about their illnesses. Even though they’re in hospital, children still need to have fun.”

The Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, which works closely with Stellenbosch University, treats 16 000 children every year, and raises much-needed funds for equipment and facilities through the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital Trust.

The students, who have the option of studying a range of courses while on the ship, spent a week in Cape Town before heading off to Ghana and Morocco before finally ending their four-month voyage in Spain.

Written by Kim Cloete on behalf of the Tygerberg Children’s Hospital, Department of Paediatrics and Child Health, Stellenbosch University

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