I’m concerned about my health during this pandemic because I don’t earn much money and we don’t have medical aid.

This is a story about Phina Seefane, as told to Jade Jacobsohn

I am Phina Seefane, a community healthcare worker from Limpopo. I have been working at Daspoort clinic for 8 years now. 

I’ve come to realise that I am good at helping my community with their lives! Mostly we find that people don’t have food and clothes and so we try to help them with this. After that, they are happier, and they keep asking me to assist them with their needs. I would say we have a good relationship.  

I am still responsible for people’s health when I am at home. I believe it is my responsibility  to share what I have with those who need it. Even if it’s a just a small piece of bread. If I have it, I will give it to them. 

Sometimes people come to my home and ask for masks. I struggle on days when I don’t have masks to give to people who need them. Sometimes I barely have enough masks for myself, but I need to give them away and I am left with only one. 

My family always support me, particularly my husband who I stay with. 

You know, I remember this one day when one of the children from the community came to my house looking for me. He was about 9 years old. I was at work, but my husband was home. The boy showed my husband his foot. It had been pricked by a nail over a week before and it was full of pus. My husband called me at work, and we made a plan to see him straightaway. My husband drove him in, and the child was assisted. 

After two days, the boy came back to me and said, “I am happy. I am ok now. Thank you very much!” He was so happy, and it made me happy to see him like that and to know that we helped him. 

I gave myself a clap for that! I am happy I am assisting my community. I am so proud of that. 

Recently, I lost my adopted mother. She was assisting me with food and clothes for the community. If I came across anyone who didn’t have, I would go to her and ask for help. She would always make a plan. She was running an NGO called Eljade Huis and she passed away in June.  

I worry now because I don’t know where to go for help when I come across households in need.  I’ve lost my mom. I would often go to her and say, “there’s a home down the road where the people don’t have this and that” and she would just give it to me, and I would give it to the household. 

It’s hard. I don’t know who will be able to help me with that. I pray, “oh my God, can someone come and help me, someone like my previous mom?” Her name was Annetjie van Skalkwyk – and she was a lovely mom.

I’m concerned about my health during this pandemic because I don’t earn much money and we don’t have medical aid.  I am scared that if I get sick, I will go to the clinic and then to the hospital where I will need to spend lots of money for treatment. It’s money that I don’t have. My dream is to have a big house and a nice car. But it’s also to have medical aid. 

And, what will happen to the community if I can’t help them? What about the children who I play with after work each day? Who will care for them? Really, I am worried. I am so worried about the children.  

Let me tell you about this one family… The mom is not here. For some reason, she just left all of them. Three children; a 9-year-old, a 3-year-old and a 4 -year-old. I see them every day and I share what I have with them. I need to make sure that they are ok. 

I manage stress by talking to the sisters at the clinic, my seniors and doctors. Most of my stress relates to my community. 

My experience is that if you love people, they will love you back. I am here to love, encourage, support, and educate. I want to help the sisters, doctors, dieticians, my family, colleagues and also my community. I hope that everyone sees me that way.

Sometimes I imagine having a big centre where I can play with the kids in my community, where I can educate them about coronavirus and other health matters. A place where I can support and educate older patients, especially the chronic patients, about managing their medication correctly. And breastfeeding moms! To encourage them to keep breastfeeding, and to wash their hands and wear a mask while they are doing so.

One of the most difficult things I face is when I give my patients advice on how to look after themselves, but they don’t listen to me. 

My dream for South Africa is that everyone has a mask and sanitizer, and that everyone wears their masks, washes their hands and keeps distance to reduce the spread of the coronavirus. We must know that covid19 might be here for a long time

Thank you for your bravery and courage!