This door-to-door nurse carries her community’s only lifeline

 

With a dog-eared notebook in hand, Khanyi Sibiya closed the door to her house and paused. Looking up, she steadied herself and inhaled. A breath equal to the enormity of the task ahead. Nearly 2 000 people live in Kenneth Gardens. Each family has been placed in the subsidised housing estate because at least one member is disabled or suffers from chronic illness. The nearest public hospital is 20 kilometres away. A former nurse, Sibiya walked door-to-door to take register of the needy, taking it upon herself to serve the sick.

In September 2009, she brought together a small band of women with basic healthcare experience to provide much needed support for the community. The campaign developed into the Senzokuhle Home Based Care Organisation, which is now a registered NPO. Sibiya later managed to secure funding to set up a satellite clinic and garnered further support from UKZN and DUT. The universities send healthcare students to do basic medical examinations, adding valuable expertise to the programme.

With little support from the state, the residents of Kenneth Gardens have come to rely heavily on the clinic, which in turn is dependent on volunteers. But the community rests easy, knowing that Sibiya is guiding the ship. “This is simply a labour of love. I wake up determined to heal others,” she says. Despite the overwhelming burden of caring for multitudes of people, Sibiya has persisted and overcome. Her efforts earned her a Community Service Award from Rotary in 2013, but for the kind-hearted nurse it has only ever been about answering the call to serve.