Uphill battle for community care givers

‘€œWe try very hard to help the people, but sometimes it is difficult because we don’€™t have name badges or uniforms by which we can be identified, and people demand to see identification,’€ one of the community care givers complain.  

This group of eight people serve communities in the Mevana and Shiya Abazali townships as well as Howick central.  

Employed by the Department of Social Development, the community care givers help people by referring them to the appropriate service providers. For example, they would direct sick people to their local clinic. In cases where people don’€™t have identity documents and therefore have difficulty accessing services, the community care workers will direct the person to the Department of Home Affairs where they can apply for an identification document.

This is often the case in the poverty-stricken Shiya Abazali, an informal settlement with over 1000 shacks where many immigrants live. Often they do not have passports or identity documents and therefore can’€™t receive food parcels, although they desperately need it.

The community care givers also complain that immigrants are often mistreated at the clinics. ‘€œPeople believe that because they are not from South Africa, they are not human beings,’€ says one of the care givers.

Another challenge is that the community holds the care givers responsible when they don’€™t receive the services that they refer them to.  

‘€œThe community has many sick people ‘€“ some need adult nappies, some need wheelchairs, but they are not receiving anything, although they have requested it ‘€“ then people accuse us of not doing our work,’€ one of the care givers say.

* Story by Lungile Ngubane, OurHealth Citizen Journalist reporting from the Mgungundlovu district in KwaZulu-Natal.


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