SA TENNIS OPEN
Players Visit Soweto Hospital
Johannesburg, South Africa
by Press Release|
Three players competing at the South African Tennis Open was the perfect remedy to put smiles on the faces of the children in Ward 33 at the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto on Tuesday.
The three stars, Simon Greul of Germany and the doubles team of James Cerretani and Adil Shamasdin, took time out from the rigours of playing in the SA Tennis Open at Montecasino to travel to Africa’s largest hospital and give back to their fans, struggling to get well.
After a hearty welcome by CEO Johanna More, who explained the history and capacity of the hospital, the trio were taken on a tour of the neo-natal unit, which houses more than 80 prematurely born babies, and sees more than 50 new born deliveries daily.
The players then went to ward 33, one of the paediatric wards, where they handed out educational gifts to the children. After spending time building puzzles and talking to the kids, the visit ended at one of the general medical wards, where they gifted another 40 patients with care packages.
While the players certainly made a big impact on some of their smallest supporters, the same was true in reverse. Cerretani, in particular, turned to putty in the hands of one of his little fans.
“This little girl just came running up to me,” Cerretani gushed. “She might have been two or three.
“I gave her just a small gift and that definitely brought a big smile to her face. It was really a very special moment for me and one of the highlights of the day. That was pretty cool.”
Although their first priority is to come out and play tennis, the ATP Tour players enjoy the opportunity to experience life away from the courts and give back to the communities they visit.
“Tennis is our job, week in and week out,” explained Cerretani.
“The ATP also does a fantastic job to provide us players the opportunity to get to know the city outside of tennis. Coming here to the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital has given us an opportunity to familiarise ourselves with some of the social, political and economical issues that face Johannesburg and South Africa as a country.
“It has been interesting and eye-opening and ultimately, really just special for us to see what actually goes on here at a real, genuine hospital.”
Greul, too, enjoyed spending time with the children in the pediatric ward.
“It was fun to see the kids smile when we gave them the presents,” he said. “We cannot help that much but we did what we could and it was a good experience for us to see them and make them smile.”
Greul was also impressed with the size of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, which can accommodate 2880 patients at any given time and also offers training to hundreds of medical staff the world over.
“It is such a big hospital and it was a powerful experience,” he said. “We saw many doctors and nurses working under really difficult conditions.
“It was tough to see them work in these circumstances, but I think they are trying to do their best and they are helping so many and it was good for us to see a different way of working.”