Helping the helpless – why everyone should lend a hand

Siphokazi Magobiyana, who has been a care-giver for the past four years, attends to an elderly person at home. Picture: Judy de Vega
Khanyi Ndabeni spoke to Siphokazi Magobiyana, 40, who has been working with HIV/Aids patients through NGO Nonceba in Nelson Mandela Bay’s New Brighton for the past three years.

What does Nonceba do?
We visit sick people around the city – those who are bedridden, can’t walk and who have defaulted on their [anti-retroviral] treatment. We do follow-ups and fetch their treatment from clinics.
Do you only help people who are HIV-positive?
No, some of our patients have tuberculosis or diabetes. We don’t only take care of HIV/Aids patients, even though the majority of people whom we look after are either infected or affected by it.
Do you work with child-headed families?
Yes. Right now I work with children under the age of 19. I give support to the older children in these families, as they normally are left with the burden of looking after their siblings. Among other things, I give them counselling and support them with homework from school.
Why did you start this work?
It was after two rape incidents [near my] home. Both the children involved were younger than five, and even though I didn’t stay with them, they managed to come to my house and open up to me.
What reward do you get from your work?
All the Nonceba caregivers work for free. We don’t get any stipend from the government, but we love what we do. We are helping the community. The reward we get is when we see a person recovering [from illness]. Some come and say thank you, and other don’t, but we still love our job.

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