Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Are you healthy enough for the health test?

One of the more horrible experiences we have had was the obligatory blood test for Aids. Apparently, everyone has to have one, and if you are unfortunate enough to have Aids (or TB), you do not get to stay. No wonder the percentage of Aids cases is 0,001%.

DH arranged for a guide to take us to the local hospital where they test immigrants. Let me set the picture for you : 5 or 6 hot, stuffy, dirty pre-fab buildings, filled to the roof with sweating, pushing, rude, frustrated and frustrating people - mainly men - all screaming, shouting and causing commotions in various languages at the tops of their voices (including the ones behind the counters!) Total dis-organised chaos!! And our "guide" was one of the worst culprits. He simply pushed in front of a line of about 12 other people, grabbed the one man by his collar and tossed him out of the queue and squeezed to the front. When the other people in the queue began to mutter unhappily at him, he simply turned around, pointed to us (DD and DM) and made as if it was our fault. We then had to bravely smile at them and try to stop them from lynching us.
The guide's English consisted of "You come" and "You pay", and he totally could not (or would not) understand us at all. What I do know is that he kept demanding money - R200 here, R600 there, another R200 again.
We left the pre-fabs for a brick building -passing several bloodsoaked wads of cottonwool along the way. We were marched upstairs (to our doom, we felt by now!) where women and men are separated for the actual blood tests. Our guide pushed us rudely past the other waiting women and through a door, which clanged shut behind us. We were left standing, with our best "stiff upperlip" smiles, facing a herd of women and white coated technicians. After snatching our papers, one (who looked like a prison guard) barked that we must "Follow NOW", so follow we did, out the door again and down the stairs. Our guide galloped after us, shrieking : "What you do, get back, give blood NOW". The more we tried to explain that we were instructed to follow "Helga, the Horrible", more more he screamed at us to GET BACK NOW. Luckily, Helga noticed that we had strayed, had a few choice words to say to our guide, and we were allowed to trot along after her again.
Two and a half hours later (!!) we were totally shattered and just too grateful to still be alive, mostly!! Albeit with punctured arms. All I can say is, after that trauma, they had BETTER give us a permit to stay, for THEIR own health!!

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