Community Careworkers Organise Stakeholder Engagement Event
Contributor: Miriam Waltz
“We clock in and out under a tree whether it rains or is hot… we are like goats or dogs,” says Nozuko Fos, a Community Care Worker (CCW) in Nyanga. She adds: “They are playing games with us,” referring to the Department of Health, with whom the CCWs have repeatedly tried to address their working conditions. CCWs do important work by delivering primary health care to communities, but they are systematically underpaid and receive inadequate support from the Department of Health and the NGOs that they work for.
Citizen action and government responsiveness were the focus of the Making All Voices Count initiative, a global partnership to research and promote accountability that SLF has been involved in from September 2015 until May 2017. SLF’s engagement in the initiative included four thematic streams. The health case study started in October 2016 and included a CollectiveVoice process (a combination of photovoice and collective filmmaking) with a group of CCWs from Nyanga.
The group of CCWs organised a stakeholder engagement event at the Endlovini community hall in New Crossroads on 4 April 2017 and invited care workers and other allies from a number of organisations. As Nozuko puts it: “The first thing to do is to show people who don’t know we work under these conditions and to expose the NGOs.” About fifty people from community and various organisations came together to watch a screening of the movies the CCWs made. This was a very moving gathering that led to mutual support and a call for action to create further awareness of the conditions in which CCWs work. Many of the attendees who worked in primary health care shared their own experiences and the afternoon was filled with tears and songs.
For the CCWs involved in the filmmaking, this was encouragement to continue their activities. They have worked to articulate a clear message supported by the short films, which they will use to take their campaign forward and hold government accountable. As they put it: “We are proud, but we are tired. We are the superheroes, because we assist those who cannot assist themselves.” And they want to be recognised as such.