Making travel arrangements for children changed dramatically since lockdown started. You can no longer just go online and book a flight or bus, it now requires a huge  operational process .

With lockdown  commercial transport came to a standstill, yet our children still had to travel to and from hospitals for treatment. Our plan was to rent vehicles and transport the children ourselves, since most of the families do not have their own vehicles or driver’s licenses. We approach HERTZ who was willing to make vehicles available, as long as we have a permit as an essential service. It was quite a mission to find the right Department that could issue us with a permit as essential service . After days of inquiries our permit was issued by the Department of Social Development.

To minimize costs we asked hospitals to coordinate the treatment dates of children in order to fill a vehicle to capacity. Lockdown regulations minimized us to 4 people and a driver in an 8-seater vehicle. For a 10 or 14 seater vehicle we needed a driver with a PDP. We started to recruit volunteers as drivers, making sure that it is people we know and can trust with our children.

In preparation for the trip we had to issue the driver with a permit as essential driver, book accommodation should the return trip not take place on the same day, load the driver as a beneficiary on our banking platform , calculate how much money they would need for fuel and pay it into their account, let the driver sign an indemnity form , ensure that all the children had a covid-19 test done as they cannot be admitted to hospital without a negative test result,  ensure that the hospital issue the family with an official letter confirming their appointment and reason for travel,

With all the roadblocks on route the trip from East London to Cape Town took 14 hours, and a trip from Port Elizabeth to Cape Town 10 hours! Driving with a facial mask for 14 hours is very challenging! At every stop , before getting back into the vehicle hands must be sanitized and before every return trip the vehicle must be sanitized..