Founders never leave our thoughts for they leave marks on our thoughts that cannot be removed. They provide us the motivation to reflect on the past. They provide us with motivation to move on in the anticipation of surpassing their individual imprint. Our lessons and justifications come from their errors.
Muthande could not have achieved its goals without the founding members and full board members who served then and now, as well as stakeholders and partners. The founders worked hard to create and maintain Muthande’s vision, mission statement, and strategic planning. We pay tribute to Muthande’s founding members who unfortunately some of them has passed on. May their soul rest in eternal peace.
Former Community Health Nurse for eThekwini Municipality and Chairperson of Muthande Board.
One of the group’s founding members, Khosi, had the idea to provide care for the elderly in black communities. When she encountered other women, she pitched the idea to them and recruited them to help her realise her vision. Since there were no organizations representing the interests of the black elderly, the then welfare board was made aware of the condition of the black senior in black communities. She began to work closely with sister Edna Mbesa who became the first board chairperson and a nursing sister and was already doing voluntary work in Lamontville community taking care of the elderly who were frail and could not access to home care services. She used her influence in the Nursing Council of South Africa to have the organisation registered as an NGO. May her soul rest in eternal peace.
Young Women’s Christian Movement (YWCA), where she served and rose through the ranks to become a national leader and 2nd Vice Chairperson.
Elizabeth is one of Muthande founder members who joined Muthande while she was involved in other organisations. She began her ecumenical work in 1976 as a founding member of DIAKONIA, an organization connected to the South African Council of Churches and rose to the position of head project manager for the projects at the Community Resources Center. She was also founder member of the Zibambeleni Old Age Home, the KwaMashu Christian Care (Old Age Home), and later St. Clement. After learning how to deal with elderly people and realizing that institutionalization is never enough, she went on to play a crucial role as a founding member of the Muthande Society for the Aged and promote home-based care. Through her work with the church, Muthande had enormous international influence in several nations throughout Africa, Europe, and Asia. Muthande became the beneficiary organization of her global connections and presence. International organizations like Help-Age International, which has so far provided funding for Muthande Projects.
Elizabeth Mkame carried herself like a lady, had a developing heart, was inspired by powerful individuals around her, and learnt to serve without fear or ulterior motives. Early on, she joined the Young Women’s Christian Movement (YWCA). She went to Geneva for the World Council. Elizabeth was appointed as the Africa Regional Representative at the Vatican, where she worked on Catholic Church ecumenical programs and had the chance to interact with Pope John Paul II. An activist ecumenical leader of the Church-affiliated Anti-Apartheid Movement. She was a devout Catholic who served as Muthande’s spokesperson for various campaigns. She served on the Board of Muthande until she was called to her higher calling and passed away.
Former Nursing Sister and Muthande 1st Vice Chairperson.
Mrs. Edna Mbesa, a nursing sister, volunteered to visit the fragile and bedridden individuals who were referred by community members to her to support their health. She oversaw the Lamontville Chapter of Muthande, started home visits for the frail elderly, and brought a variety of hospital supplies. She was elected as Muthande’s first Vice President.
Edna Nompumelelo “Thumbu” Mbesa, ma Shandu, was raised in the PMB neighbourhood of Kwa Swayimana. She was the family’s fourth and last child. Despite coming from an impoverished home, she wished to succeed in life. She was moved under the guise that she needed to be closer to Maphumulo Hospital because she had a chronic illness. Her father, who worked in the mines in JHB, had decreed that a girl child could not go beyond Std 4. However, with the help of her school’s teachers and family members who lived in Kwa Maphumulo, close to Umvoti, North of KZN, she was allowed to continue her education. This ultimately resulted in her attending JC, Form 3. The KEH Hospital then gave her permission to enrol in a nursing program. In her second year, she married, and she gave birth to 4 children. She later continued her education and finished matriculation since she wanted to work as a registered midwife.
She developed such a passion for her work as a caregiver for the elderly and unwell. When Edna visited the elderly and ailing, she would wash, bathe, and treat their wounds. She accomplished all of this on her own expense. She was approached by other ladies to establish Muthande, and she used her nursing experience to implement home-based care services. May her soul rest in eternal peace.
Former Nursing Sister and currently serving as a President of the board.
She was approached by Liz Mkame and Khosi Mlambo, told her they were establishing a project and were wondering if she might join them. At that time, she worked on a project named Sibusisiwe Child and Family Welfare and Society, in Clermont headquarters, its aim was to provide childcare and youth education.
She consented and willingly began working with them. She did so by going to Lizzy’s office, where Sis Khosi was employed at the City Health Council and Lizzy was at the time employed by the Diakonia Council of Churches. Clermont, Lamontville, and Chesterville were the areas in which they worked at the time. She was pursuing a BICA nursing degree via UNISA when she joined the organisation. Sociology was a subject she studied while doing her BICA nursing degree and continued to study when pursuing her postgraduate degree since it was a study of the structure of society. She completed her academics while volunteering with Muthande. Her spouse understood how committed she was with the organization and helped with legal issues and many other aspects of starting the organization.
They applied for funding applications to various organisations and write proposals. Fortunately, the ladies received a mobile office from Reader’s Digest, it was a relief because they did not have to hop from one office to another. The other influence she had on Muthande was being a chair of Progressive Primary Health Care in KZN and Nation making sure that the majority staff members, were always enrolled in training programs. The goal of Progressive Primary Health Care was to advance health care throughout the nation since, good health is influenced by a person’s lifestyle, employment, home, access to clean water, and sanitation. This is where Muthande meets health care needs of the elderly people who are frail that requires proper care and treatment.
Mrs Skweyiya’s husband was inspired by their dedication he contributed office equipment. Because they were perceived as a project that was strengthening or adding to the work that the different levels of government were unable to do, the Mayors of eThekwini were able to acquire everything they needed, including travel for AGMs, for free.
She was also impacted by the Diakonia side, where Lizzy one of the founder members got her ideas for initiatives from the church’s social action committee. They looked at issues that affected elderly people and their day-to-day struggles to see how they might make a difference. After working in the small office for seven years as a licensed professional nurse with honors, she then moved to the UK to pursue her Master’s Degree. While in the UK she searched for additional primary health care offices like HelpAge
International and learned about other UK health care organizations that assist with older people. She brought the knowledge gained from these organisation to Muthande home-based care. Her thesis in the UK focused on the Elderly TB and the Elderly, and she wanted to know why children get TB at such a young age. In London, she discovered that TB is more common in the elderly.
After returning from studying in the UK, she re-joined Muthande as a board member instead of a worker. She was subsequently given a job at the Department of Health. She worked with the Project Manager of Chronic Diseases from the Department of Health Sibongile Dube, a sister who oversaw a particular program and with whom she worked as an employee in the Department of Health, who was deeply enamoured of the activities taking place at Muthande. The project manager always embraced Muthande in those activities. Even when she was working for as Deputy City Manager eThekwini Municipality, she never gave up her non-governmental or community-based work. In addition to the Memorandum of Understanding, she did once again exert influence such that if any initiatives or activities involved in Kenya or other African nations, James Nxumalo, the deputy mayor at the time, would accompany Roselyn Mabasa the first care giver to a workshop in Nairobi.
When the country’s constitution was being written, her husband Judge Thembile Skweyiya, and her stepped up to say that older people have rights and are human beings. However, because they hadn’t worked very hard to promote this positive aging saying older people are in need, the ladies decided that even those who are over 60 should be treated as human beings. Help them age gracefully and with dignity, and to teach the community who perceive elderly people as witches making a mockery of them by calling them because they are not actually dying. In countries like Nigeria, you may find people who are 120 years old, but in South Africa, everyone over 70 is referred to as a witch and society expects them to be dead by that age.
Former Nursing Sister, Entrepreneur and Board member.
Maud Buthelezi, a trained nurse who later became a very successful entrepreneur of the era, served on the board for a considerable amount of time and made contributions to the organization’s donations. Maud Buthelezi was born at Eshowe Empaphala on the 11 of November 1931. She was educated at the community school and completed at Intshanga Mission School. Started doing nursing diploma at King Edward VIII Hospital when she was 16 years old, followed by a diploma in obstetrics. She worked with love and dedication to the extent that three families would come to her house to shower her with gifts, as their way to thank her.
She left the nursing profession in 1970 and joined her husband in entrepreneurship. That is the time she started focusing on community-based projects. As a founder member of Muthande she readily avails herself whenever there was anything to be collected or transported such as clothing donations etc. Her children would assist her with pickups, unloading at home and loading again stuff when it was needed by Muthande. There was a lot of movements with the parcels for the organisation. She was very involved with the other members teaching self-help schemes to women. She played a pivotal role in securing the land where the Muthande building is. She is one of the founder members with the then director Mrs Doris Hlubi made sure they went with whenever they had to face the Durban Municipality authorities concerning the land. Imbokodo endala eyamthanda kudala umuntu omdala won the race, the Municipality wanted the elderly to purchase the land they already occupied which was given by the previous authorities for R800,000.00. She was one of the board members until ill health.
Former Executive Manager and currently Project Coordinator (Nozala Trust)
Before she joined Muthande Doris Hlubi was a part of a community-based women’s organisation called the YWCA (Young Women’s Christian Association) in the middle of 1970. She began as an ordinary member and eventually progressed to the position of Lamontville Branch Secretary before
taking over as Chairman of the branch she was exposed to most of the communities surrounding eThewkwini. Women in leadership roles and those with significant influence were introduced to one another thanks to the opening chance to serve as Executive to the District and Provincial Executive. She was also employed by the Durban South School Board Office as an Administrative Clerk. This also offered her the additional exposure she required inside the eThekwini Townships. Later, she was hired as a community worker by the then-Durban Health Department, where she received extensive on-the-job training on a variety of issues before becoming one of the Community Health Educators assigned to several Municipality Health clinics.
She was hired to work at Muthande Society for the Aged as the Administrative Secretary by Khosi Mlambo, Sis. Lizzy Mkame, Sayo Skweyiya, who later became a close friend, and Edna Mbesa. She was able to compile information and write minutes because she had just finished a typing-focused secretarial course at that time.
She was recruited as a substitute when Mrs. S. Skweyiya received a scholarship to study for her master’s degree in 1987 in the UK. After a lengthy conversation with her husband Mduduzi Hlubi, who was though sceptical but understanding, and her children, she took a leap of faith and resigned from her cushy position with full perks to become a third employee of Muthande.
Along the way she made many relationships and friendships with many women in positions of power. This is when she became acquainted with several community health nurses, particularly Community Health Nurse (CHN) Khosi Mlambo. The working relationship that resulted from these unions was fantastic. While performing municipality work in the villages around eThekwini townships, she was provided with a lot of exposure. This was boosted by actions during the city’s preparations for 1982’s ‘International Year of the Aged,’ when she was appointed to hold meetings and prepare the event that would be held by the Municipality’s Health Department. These were quite involving for all the surrounding communities, and Community Health Nurses had complete faith and confidence in her
because she had already begun serving on the then-initial founding Committees of the Muthande Society for the Aged.
This was a fantastic chance to bring the concerns around ageing to the forefront. Because she had previously been recruited to work with the then Committee/Board, she served as a vice secretary then later became a secretary. That also brought her into close contact with Mrs Sayo Skweyiya, who was already functioning as the organization’s treasurer before being promoted to administrator/executive officer. This also provided her with the opportunity to receive training from various community-based organisations, such as the National Progressive Primary Health Care Network. She was part of a group of National Progressive Primary Health Care Network office managers who travelled to Cadonia, Zimbabwe, for a five-week training on “The Improvement of Primary Health Care Management.” The training was led by lecturers from the Burns School of Medicine in the United Kingdom.
This, together with her 15 years of expertise and exposure from the eThekwini Health Department, positioned her to manage the Muthande Society for the Aged’s Home Health Care services. Apart from Khosi Mlambo, there were other powerful and kind people who were extremely helpful and developmental on her professional path, such as Nancy Knipe, and many more. Their intentions were for her was to continue with the vision so that Muthande would not fail and loose the vision.
While this was going on, Roselyn Mabasa from Clermont an Enrolled Nurse and Simangele Msomi from Lamont (Health Educator) both started working at the then centre for three days as service centre organisers and cooks at the centre and two days in the community collecting data and information about the needs of the elderly in both townships. Mrs. H. Nyawose retired Enrolled Nurse subsequently took on the same job for Chesterville.