Being a community health worker is more than just work

Portrait of Manelisi, community care worker in South Africa, wearing a red t-shirt in front of a colorful wall
Last updated on: 13 March 2024

24-year-old Manelisi from South Africa has been working with children living with HIV in her community since 2015 when she was still in high school. Being a community care worker is more than just work. It involves knowing more about the background of the family and going over and above to assist each family. It’s my love and passion for working with kids. To work with kids you have to understand them, and bring yourself to their level of understanding.

School visits

As a KidsAlive Champion we do talks with children living with HIV, we provide support groups and we support them in the disclosure process. We also do school visits. So what we say to them is that you don’t go around written on your forehead that I’m HIV positive. If you take your medication daily, there’s something that you can rely on.”

I lost my uncle and cousin

“HIV has affected me personally as I have family members who are living with HIV. I have had to witness them not accepting their status, getting sick and defaulting on treatment because of the side effects. They stopped taking their ARVs and used traditional medicine called “uBhejane”. They were told it was a cure for HIV. I lost my both my uncle and cousin.

Gift is living a healthy life

We have known Gift’s case before he was born. In 2004 my mother was still doing the home visits for the home-based care for people with HIV. That’s how she came to meet Busi, Gift’s
mom. In 2010 she gave birth to Gift. He was born with HIV. Busi was not able to look after the little one. And passed on in 2019. Gift was 9 years old and had no home from then. That’s when grandmother Thandi came along and she took him in.

Taking his medication is something that he knew from a little age, and then as he grew, then he knew why he’s taking this medication. So we’ve done that disclosure process with Gift. And we assisted Gogo and Gift to another facility when his clinic closed down. Gift bottles his emotions inside. But when he needs to put out something, he’ll just call me and say there’s something that is bothering him. And need to know about, that sort of thing. Yes, he has been healthy from all the time that I’ve known him, he has not been the child that goes in and out of hospital.

A woman in a red t-shirt has her arm around a boy in a black sihrt: Maselisi and Gift