When she started working at Seapole Clinic years ago, Nicolene Mohale had no idea that she would accomplish what she has so far.
“I started volunteering as a DOTS [Directly Observed Treatment Short Course] supporter for five years. Our community’s clinic committee asked that I take up the position as our village didn’t have anyone doing such work at the time. As a DOTS supporter, I was looking after TB patients. I became a community health worker (CHW) after that,” Mohale says.
“I’ve seen the importance of my work as it ensures that children grow properly. Even though it’s hard at times, I’m dedicated to it and I love what I do,” says the mother of four.
As she conducts a home visit at a house not far from hers, it becomes clear that she is appreciated by her community members. Chairs are brought out for them as soon as they are seen approaching the house.
“The community loves the work we do; they call me whenever they have health problems at home or need advice,” she explains.
Mohale is as close to her club members as she is to her community. What she loves about them is the love and respect they have for each other.
“We’ve built an unbreakable relationship founded on unity.”
Mohale has a timetable that she uses to help her manage her visits as she has several responsibilities.
“Every morning I visit three patients with chronic illnesses. After that, I spend the rest of the day checking on children and pregnant women. I use a timetable and that really helps me manage my time.”
Her responsibilities include addressing malnutrition, encouraging pregnant women to book early at clinics and ensuring that children are immunised on time – and that they do not default on it.
Despite her best efforts at monitoring the growth of children and ensuring they have all that’s required for proper growth, she has found that some parents still don’t understand the threat nutritional stunting poses to their children.
“One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered is getting parents to honour our referrals. For example, I’ll find that a child is not at the right height for their age and ask the parent to visit the clinic and consult with a dietician, but this advice gets ignored sometimes,” she says.
“I think there needs to be greater awareness around stunting because parents don’t realise how serious it is or understand that quick interventions must be made for the benefit of their children.
“I’d like to see my community members raise their children well. As a volunteer, I’d like to see my colleagues and me permanently employed. This would really help me support my children.”
*This article has been edited for brevity.