Memorial service stresses role of palliative care

People light candles to remember loved ones who have died, at a memorial service organised by the Abundant Life palliative care organisation.

People lit candles to remember loved ones who have died, at a memorial service in Plumstead, on Saturday.

It was organised by Abundant Life Palliative Care. Founded 13 years ago at Victoria Hospital by Dr Clint Cupido and Sister Elizabeth Pitout, the programme offers training to palliative-care workers and support to patients and their families.

Gail Abrahams came from Blackheath to attend the event at the Norman Henshilwoord High School hall. She carefully opened plastic containers to remove framed photographs of family members, including her mother, who died in District Six in 2000, and her father, who died in Woodstock 10 years later.

Ms Abrahams, who lost her cousin to cancer in 2010, is a photographer, and she said she felt fortunate to have pictures of her loved ones who had died.

Others at the memorial brought leaflets from a family member’s funeral because it was the only picture they had of their loved one.

Victoria Hospital CEO Jonathan Vaughan said palliative care was an essential part of health care and he was proud at how it had evolved at the hospital over the past 13 years. He vowed to integrate it more into the care the hospital provided.

Most of the palliative care was funded by donors, such as the Harry Crossley Foundation, but the hospital did not want to rely only on donors to keep the programme going, he said.

Wynberg businessman Rashmi Kooverjee has launched an Abundant Life palliative care legacy fund, and he encouraged people to continue supporting the programme. He said the fund already had R120 000, but the aim was to raise R1 million over the next few years.

Alahuddiyn Ahmed was the guest speaker at the event. He is a freelance adventure tour guide from Kenwyn who has been a patient at Victoria Hospital for the past seven years. He had a heart bypass 22 years ago and more recently had a pacemaker implanted. However, he said he planned to raise money for palliative care by asking the company that made his pacemaker to sponsor a tandem skydive. “It would be good advertising of their product if the tandem jump is successful with me being alive after landing,” he smiled.

Participants enjoyed song, dance and music by more than 100 performers, including school pupils and they lit candles to remember their loved ones.

Contact Nadia Ebrahim at 082 788 4239 or abundantlife.victoria@gmail.com for more information.

Alahuddiyn Ahmed is an adventure tour guide from Kenwyn who had a heart bypass 22 years ago and more recently had a pacemaker implanted. He said he still planned to jump from planes to raise funds for Abundant Life.
Victoria Hospital CEO Jonathan Vaughan said palliative care was an essential part of nursing.
Some attached photographs to chords hanging between poles.
Families placed pictures of loved ones who have died.
Gail Abrahams came from Blackheath to mourn family members who have died.