Shawco reaches out to fire-torn community

28 February 2005

In late January, as survivors of the fire in the Joe Slovo squatter camp in Langa tried to start afresh, Shawco set up one of its emergency clinics in the community. As is routine on the organisation's mobile clinics, UCT medical students offered a primary-care service for the many who had been set up in huge tents in the camp. The students dispensed whatever medicines they could - they ran out well before they had hoped they would - and treated the usual rash of conditions such as colds and worms. "Fortunately there was surprisingly little trauma," says medical student Gareth Mannheimer, who headed the UCT team.

That was in part because burn victims had already been treated - the clinic was held a week or so after the fire - and also because of the good work done by the city's disaster management team and other groups, Mannheimer adds. The clinic was still a welcome sight. As were the other essentials Shawco handed out - mattresses, blankets and clothing that had been donated by, among other groups, UCT's Student Housing and Residence Life department. According to Mannheimer, the camp had been devastated by the fire, and the tents were spilling over with people. "It was shattering to see."

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