“My shift ends at half past four but sometimes I work until six o’clock and I don’t mind. I’m always willing to work much longer,” said Tintswalo Gladys Mabunda from Nkomo Village in Giyani.

It is this dedication that saw Mabunda crowned Giyani’s top Community Health Worker (CHW) by Grow Great Champions (GGC) in 2019.

“I felt good receiving the award and I want to achieve more than I did in 2019 because I want to ensure that no child in our village is stunted,” she said. “The award gave me further encouragement to fight stunting in Nkomo.”

Mabunda’s face lit up as she spoke about her diligence and the support she received from her club members, and how she always knew that was what would ultimately lead her to success.

“I always knew that I was going to win because I had been working very hard. My team leader encouraged me to work even harder. Some CHWs left GGC because they thought they wouldn’t get anything out of it. I’m sure they will be jealous of my achievement, but it will encourage them to work harder wherever they are.”

Her eagerness to help others is not limited to her community; she is always ready to assist her team members as she knows that working together will help them achieve their common goal.

“I always support my team however I can. I always remind them that we don’t work to get something in exchange, but to ensure that children are protected from stunting and are able to have bright futures.”

Inspired by the achievement of her fellow CHW Cyndi Mnisi, who received training from the Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Trust in Cape Town this year, Mabunda said she would also like to see the city.

“I want to go to Cape Town as well. I work with support groups in my community and at the [Nkomo] clinic, I’m also busy with antenatal and postnatal care. Once I’m done at the clinic, I do my CHW duties of providing home-based care. I love what I do, because it makes me feel happy that I am keeping my community healthy.

“It does get difficult working with vulnerable members of the community, such as the elderly and those suffering from chronic conditions. But we CHWs know that we must persevere and ensure that they adhere to their treatment.”

Mabunda said that while she could see the positive impact of CHWs, more could still be done on educating the community of Nkomo on stunting and good health.

“I want to see more public education campaigns so people can know more about staying healthy. It can get hard going door to door educating them on good health. With such campaigns, we can reach more people and I’m happy that Grow Great has been doing this.”

The dedication of Champions for Children such as Mabunda is what zero stunting by 2030 requires. We salute her for caring deeply for children and mothers in her community.

*This article is from our 2019 edition of our On The Field CHW magazine and has been edited for brevity.