Elderly woman paints a positive picture as she receives vaccine

'I have to live on to see my family grow — I plan to do that'

Ethelwyn van Eck, 84, is among the first to be vaccinated at the Elphin Lodge retirement home in Johannesburg on Monday.
Ethelwyn van Eck, 84, is among the first to be vaccinated at the Elphin Lodge retirement home in Johannesburg on Monday.
Image: Kgaugelo Masweneng/TimesLIVE

Ethelwyn van Eck, 84, sat in her room at the tranquil Elphin Lodge Retirement Village, Johannesburg, as she waited for her Covid-19 vaccine on Monday.

The morning started off at a slow pace as the facility had to wait for Gauteng officials to unveil the process and for the vaccine to defrost.

Van Eck was the first elderly person to be vaccinated at the home. 

“I’m very much relieved to have been vaccinated, I think it’s the only way we can deal with the pandemic,” she said.

“Our registrations were done by the administration for us, we just had to give details.

“The facility gave us a great deal of support, physically and mentally. They have always been good to us. I feel very secure and happy over these years. We have a very compassionate staff.”

Van Eck has been at the facility since 2016, after suffering a stroke the previous year. As a painter, this dramatic turn of her life also saw her start painting differently from nature and landscape to portraits of black women.

“I have changed. That moment in my life made me realise that to survive you must bend your perspective. Now that I’m at an old age home, I relied on my memory of the outside world to paint. And their faces, the beauty, the pride, and gorgeous and colourful clothing stuck to my mind,” she said.

A painting by Ethelwyn van Eck.
A painting by Ethelwyn van Eck.
Image: Kgaugelo Masweneng/TimesLIVE

Van Eck said she was a teacher and had been painting for 30 years.

“I have to live on to see my family grow I plan to do that. I’ve accepted that it was a dangerous disease. I had to be in quarantine, which I knew was for my own good. For about seven months I couldn’t see my family, but luckily we used WhatsApp to connect, which was a great comfort,” she said.

“I haven’t had Covid-19. I’m very thankful that my family and I are still safe.”

Her daughter-in-law has had Covid-19, she added.

Health minister Zweli Mkhize said on Sunday there may be a slow start to the second phase of the Covid-19 vaccination rollout, but the numbers should pick up during the month.

The second phase begins this week. There were 87 vaccination sites available nationally, with 83 in the public sector and four in the private sector. The department was hoping to up this number to 200 by the end of the week.

TimesLIVE


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