CANTON -- Some people go to the beach for their vacation, but Canton-Potsdam Hospital employees Michael and Lisa Ditta in August will head to squatters’ camps that have grown up around the city of Johannesburg, South Africa.
The Dittas, clinicians with Canton-Potsdam Hospital’s Canton Family Health practice, will be traveling with their daughter, Miranda, to Johannesburg for 10 days to use their medical and nursing skills at a mission clinic operated by Impact Africa, a Christian evangelical organization.
The organization operates medical clinics, pre-schools, and other services near the squatters’ camps, which were among those that erupted in protests in the lead-up to the first post-Apartheid elections held in the country since former President Nelson Mandela’s death.
“These squatters’ camps are what they sound like,” Michael Ditta said. “They were erected out of what we would think of as found materials on a temporary basis, but became permanent fixtures of the landscape. There is no running water or electricity. There is violence. The poor health and prospects for children’s futures on the fringe of Johannesburg, an otherwise modern city in Africa, is appalling."
The Dittas are traveling with two adults from the area and two youth members of a local religious congregation. In-country, they will work with Emma Schneider, an Impact Africa missionary from Hammond. The Dittas have worked with the congregation to raise funds for travel and other expenses. They are donating their free time and skills.
“We’ve organized fundraisers, like a spaghetti dinner that will take place at the Ogdensburg Rescue Squad Building on Saturday, June 14,” Ditta said. “If people would like to help, their dollars will be going toward travel to bring the medical care to children who desperately need it."