HOPE Hero Highlight – Phumzile: Going the extra mile to serve suffering families
Phumzile Mnyandu has been with HOPE worldwide SA since 2012. She started as a Community Worker in Diepsloot, a township north of Johannesburg. But her passion and dedication to her work and to families in need opened the door for her to become a Site Coordinator for the Mpumalanga province.
Phumzile is tireless in supporting children in preschools and in families. Much of her time is spent visiting and supporting preschools. With so many families unable to afford preschools, she was also involved in running Parent Support Groups (PSGs) that equip parents and caregivers with the knowledge, skills and support to help with the children’s development.
Phumzile has impacted the lives of hundreds of vulnerable children, giving them a better future.
Phumzile has seen families in severe distress and has done a lot to change their circumstances. “I remember once when I was providing food to households, a community worker came to me and revealed that a 12-year-old child, who was not a part of our programme, was suffering from a disability. She couldn’t walk and the family came from Mozambique. Since they were foreigners, the mother couldn’t apply for a social grant and to compensate, would resort to using her own clothes as disposable nappies to help her child. I went to screen their household and asked the nutrition manager at HOPE worldwide SA to include that child in our nutrition programme. I was able to provide nutrition to that child while I helped the family to apply for possible sponsorship around Mpumalanga to help.
Another time when I was running PSGs in Diepsloot, I came across a single mother of three. All her children where below 6 and the youngest (one and a half years old) was very sick. I remember running around to help that family with the young one. I would leave home to go to the Johannesburg hospital and help translate for the mother while she was with the doctor because she could not understand English. The child also never had a birth certificate. I often went with the parents to the Department of Home Affairs to try and get birth documents for many children so they could be in pre-school and proceed to school as well.”
Things escalated throughout 2020 as Mpumalanga was severely impacted by the Covid-19 lockdown. “Seeing smiles and bringing hope to the hopeless was my goal and motto during Covid-19 because most people were hopeless. This was the most difficult time for everyone, both for preschools and families in our PSGs.
I started identifying the neediest children in preschools. Many children would get their meals at the schools but the schools were closed. I had to go into those communities and distribute nutrition to those children and parents. They were so delighted and shared their stories with me. Covid-19 caused a lot of parents to lose jobs and there was a time where everyone was supposed to stay home. Since parents were not able to go out, I had to go in and deliver food parcels to them house to house. At one point I grouped a few families together and when I gave each family a food parcel, they sang and danced for the help they had received.
A passion for those in need has grown deep in Phumzile’s heart over the years. “I’ve been changed completely. I’ve learned to love and have compassion. Now I judge less and love more. I don’t just take my work as a job but as a calling. I choose to do what I am doing because I want to serve and transform lives every day. Every day I count how many people I have served, the smiles on little ones faces. That makes me happy.”
Though there may be turmoil in this world. People like Phumzile continue to push back the darkness to give people hope where they are. If you would like to support incredible people like Phumzile doing incredible work in their communities, consider making a donation at http://hopeworldwidesa.org/donate-now