Empilisweni Centre, mainly funded by National Lottery, helps the community of Ndevana and surrounding areas. It has 200 volunteers who do door-to-door visits to needy families. They clean houses for elderly people, assist orphans and help patients with chronic conditions and those who struggle to travel either due to lack of finance or sickness.
Eastern Cape residents in Ndevana near King William’s Town could not hide their happiness when the Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa officially opened Vuyo Mbuli Empilisweni HIV/AIDS and Orphans care centre on Sunday.
Ramaphosa was welcomed by community members of Ndevana, including African National Congress members who were singing, ululating and clapping hands.
Empilisweni Centre, mainly funded by National Lottery, helps the community of Ndevana and surrounding areas.
It has 200 volunteers who do door-to-door visits to needy families. They clean houses for elderly people, assist orphans and help patients with chronic conditions and those who struggle to travel either due to lack of finance or sickness.
Ben Sunduza, the Centre organiser, said that it started operating in 1999 and was registered in 2002 with the help of the late Vuyo Mbuli.
Sunduza said the Centre focuses mostly on helping patients who are on ARV and TB treatment. He said they trace patients who default on their treatment and bring them back to the health system. The centre has identified more than 200 defaulters.
Empilisweni manager, Lungiswa Ngantweni, said she never thought this day would come and as much as she was nervous before, she has since been humbled by the support she received from the president’s office.
Ngantweni said she loves helping the community of Ndevana and that she is a mother to so many kids in her area.
She said her doors are always open: “As we speak there’s a child in my house. She was left by police after they found her abandoned somewhere,” she said.
Speaking at the Centre, Ramaphosa first thanked the community of Ndevana, caregivers, the Empilisweni Board Directors and Management. Ramaphosa also promised on behalf of government to continue building more hospitals across the country.
A beneficiary of the Centre, Nokubonga Notyhawe, who is also a volunteer said it had helped her to reconnect with her mother. After she lost her father last year, she was forced to look for her mother whom she last saw when she was very young.
“I only knew she lives in Ndevana but I didn’t know where,” she said.
Notyhawe said she heard about Empilisweni and when she met the manager, she was welcomed with open arms and all the staff helped her to find her mother.
“I now live with my mother and my daughter all thanks to Empilisweni,” she said.
Another beneficiary, Siseko Chelu, said that the Centre gave him hope. He said he had been going through a difficult time and he could not accept some of the challenges he was facing.
“I’m so grateful to Empilisweni. They gave me hope and I believe if they helped me they can help other people as well,” he said.