Johannesburg - Not only has the scramble for water in Bloemhof become dire, but even more so the struggle to make home-made cures for the diarrhoea outbreak plaguing the town.
Recipes of what residents are calling “motswako (the mixture)” are being shared like old cooking recipes, with each person adding their own twist.
Residents got the initial recipe from their local clinics as soon as medicine ran low.
Some add more sugar than they should to their boiled water – some custard instead of baking soda – but all of them hope it will save them and their children from the painful, cutting abdominal aches and dehydration most of their neighbours are experiencing.
Mathapelo Mmusi was told by the doctor at Boitumelong Clinic to buy her 7-month-old baby Powerade – the mountain blast flavour – rooibos tea for children and 100 percent orange juice.
“When he first started getting a runny tummy we thought he was teething, but we got scared when we realised that whenever he ate something it would come out immediately,” said the 42-year-old mother.
“We gave him motswako whenever his stomach ran, but the things the doctor suggested we buy has helped him a lot,” she said, gesturing at her son, who was cheerfully rolling around in his walking ring.
“Now his tummy only runs after three to four hours and his stool is not so watery.”
Mmusi said she realised that something was wrong only when she saw the news of the outbreak on TV on Tuesday. “We got surprised when we saw it on TV and heard it on the radio.”
Kehapilwe Sehau, 37, wasn’t so lucky. Her son Lehlohonolo was the first to die from the diarrhoea outbreak in the area.
Sehau said her 11-month-old had never been sick before.
“On Tuesday night at 11 (pm) he started vomiting and had diarrhoea throughout the night, so I took him to the clinic on Wednesday morning at 6,” said Sehau.
But the child died.
When The Star spoke to Sehau on Friday, she said she had not heard from the local department of health and had received only a donation from the SA Social Security Agency to help her with household items.