'Taking care of sick people is my calling'

FLORENCE Nightingale would have been proud to know that there are nurses who still go beyond the call of duty.

FLORENCE Nightingale would have been proud to know that there are nurses who still go beyond the call of duty.

Though Nightingale was not a qualified nurse, she created the profession and today millions of women and men follow in her footsteps.

Ntombikayise Mbokane of Secunda cares deeply about the people in her care. She said Nightingale is her role model. .

Mbokane has become a pillar of support for people living with HIV-Aids in her community in Embalenhle. She runs the Isiphephelo Home-Based Care Centre, which provides for and supports orphans and vulnerable children, as well as inpatients who are terminally ill.

Mbokane founded the centre in 2001. She not only ensures that people living with HIV-Aids receive the necessary care and support but goes an extra mile by looking after their families as well.

The hospice cares for more than 100 orphans and 32 families affected by HIV-Aids. It also runs educational programmes where they provide life skills to vulnerable children and youths. It also has the capacity to care for 13 terminally-ill inpatients.

Mbokane is responsible for identifying orphans, vulnerable children and families in the community who need help. She sees it as a labour of love but admits it is a job she cannot do alone.

She relies on 20 volunteers, all local. They visit child-headed households and homes of the sickly every day to clean and cook for them.

"I'm no superwoman and I will never be," Mbokane said. "But I always aim to do my best. The Isiphephelo centre would not function without the help of my team. Sometimes I feel as if they do more work than I do."

Mbokane is a qualified auxillary nurse. She hopes to go back and study nursing.

"Nursing people is my calling. I am faced with difficult situations every day that might even force one to abandon a project like this.

"In 2008 my team and I had to live with a corpse for two days in the house because the government mortuary was closed for the long weekend.

"Were it not for the Good Samaritan who agreed to take the body to his private mortuary, I do not know what I would have done. This incident was supposed to discourage me but it did not," Mbokane said.

The centre is a nonprofit organisation. It receives a R10000 donation annually from Sasol. It also gets funding from the department of health and social development.

"As an NGO I have to knock on every door for funding. People living with HIV-Aids have to eat healthy food and live in a clean environment. In order to provide all these necessities I have to beg for donor support," she said.

"Convincing funders takes time and even if they are convinced it often takes a long time before you get the money."