When Sibongile Novunga took over the leadership of a former Grow Great Champions (GGC) coach’s club, she had no idea that she would accomplish so much with her group of dedicated community health workers (CHWs).
Her club, Mgobodi, finished top of the GGC Superleague scoreboard in 2019 with 10 929 points. Following that, GGC announced at its awards ceremony in Limpopo that she would go to Cape Town with one of her CHWs to receive training from the Philani Maternal, Child Health and Nutrition Trust.
“As you can imagine, I was very excited to hear this. I was speechless as it was my first time attending a GGC awards ceremony; I don’t know what to say. I’d like to thank Grow Great, the Mgobodi Clinic staff and the CHWs who made this possible,” said the elated Novunga.
“It was a miracle, I never thought our team would win because there were so many teams in the league but we had been working hard to ensure we win. I was not always this club’s team leader. After its previous head left to work in primary healthcare, I took over.
I didn’t have any interest in becoming its leader as I didn’t know what was happening until Zeph Maseko encouraged me and showed me the ropes. After that, I started enjoying my work with the club.”
She expressed pride at one of her CHWs being named the best in their area, commending her diligence. “Cyndi [Mnisi] is a hard worker, I met her when I joined the team. She keeps working and doesn’t rest.
I like that she encourages the others to work hard as well. She’s dedicated and has got the heart to work. Cyndi’s truly one of a kind,” she says.
The rest of the team is equally special and hardworking, says Novunga, despite not being compensated.
“I wish that my team can be registered under the government so they can get a stipend. They really want to work. The only challenge is that they’re not getting anything.”
The Mgobodi coach was determined to retain her club’s top spot at 2020’s GGC awards by sticking to her winning formula of consistent support and motivation for her CHWs as well as encouraging hard work.
“I motivate them every day and urge them to work hard on weekends as well. Any coach that wants the same result should be there for their CHWs when they need them,” she says.
“The community feels the impact of their work. They’ve identified children that were underweight and at risk of stunting and more pregnant women in Mgobodi are booking [their antenatal check-ups] earlier thanks to their work.”
*This article is from our 2019 edition of our On The Field CHW magazine and has been edited for brevity.