The University of Cape Town’s (UCT) Student Wellness Service (SWS) has set up satellite medical service points at student accommodation sites across the Mother City to provide health and psychosocial support to students affected by the runaway fires at the weekend.
UCT evacuated 4 000 students from residences on Sunday, 18 April, as flames roared through the university’s upper campus in Rondebosch, causing massive destruction. Several historical buildings, including the Jagger Reading Room, have been gutted.
On the back of this, students have been placed in temporary accommodation in the city and the humanitarian organisation Gift of the Givers is preparing and distributing their daily meals.
Roving medical support groups
To help affected students come to terms with this traumatic event, Dr Memory Muturiki, the director of the SWS, said that satellite clinics have been set up at most accommodation sites. The clinics offer students medical assistance, as well as trauma debriefing and counselling.
“Students are not alone; we are here to provide care and support. We are all in this together.”
“We understand that this is a very distressing situation … for all of us. By Sunday evening we had set up nursing and counselling hubs at [most] of the hotels. Students are not alone; we are here to provide care and support. We are all in this together,” Dr Muturiki said.
The Department of Student Affairs’ (DSA) clinical teams are supported by alumni and volunteers from the campus community. External UCT stakeholders, which include Higher Health, a non-profit organisation that works in several areas to promote the health and well-being of students across South Africa’s public universities and technical and vocational training colleges, are also on site to provide assistance.
Muturiki commended everyone for their unwavering support and “outpouring of love and care” for the students.
“The response from volunteers has been truly heart-warming, and all that’s left to say is: Thank you, thank you, thank you,” she said.
Suspended academic programme
Meanwhile, UCT Vice-Chancellor Professor Mamokgethi Phakeng announced this morning [Tuesday, 20 April] that the academic programme will remain suspended until Friday, 23 April. The respective faculties will communicate directly with students as to how they will manage the lost week.
“I would like to convey my gratitude for the commitment you have all shown and the help you are all giving in the interest of the university.”
Professor Phakeng said that a massive clean-up operation is under way on campus, and that the DSA should start moving students back to residences from their emergency accommodation on Wednesday, 21 April.
“Thank you very much to all of you for your support and hard work. On behalf of the leadership of UCT, I would like to convey my gratitude for the commitment you have all shown and the help you are all giving in the interest of the university,” she said.
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