South Africa: JRS’s first Caregiving workshop, resilience and hope for a better future
24 June 2019

A daily exercise routine helps to prevent further injuries. The beneficiaries learn techniques and how to stretch during the workshop / Irene Galera (JRS)
The workshop is intended to help the caregivers offer the basic home based assistance according to sanitary and safety protocols

“I don’t know how you do it with limited resources or training, but you do it, you are wonderful,” expressed Kevin Phoshoko during the Jesuit Refugee Service South Africa (JRS) Caregiving Workshop. This professional physiotherapist recognized this way the value of the everyday work carried out by caregivers while attending their loved ones. An inestimable task, which implies daily challenges and courage –even more in the case of asylum seekers and refugees. 

Documentation and economic circumstances limit the resources or healthcare assistance available for those residing in a new country. Therefore, forcing many with special needs to be confined in their houses and dismissing their social integration. The workshop, procured by Phetolo Vocational Rehabilitation PTY LTD and hold on the 13th and 14th of June 2019 in Johannesburg with the collaboration of the Mould Empower Serve, was conducted by Phoshoko, Kedibone Muroa, a nurse, and Thulani Ndunge, a physiotherapist. All three healthcare professionals offered theoretical and practical training on home based caregiving to almost 30 asylum seekers and refugees, along with part of JRS’s staff members and students from Mpilo Royal College of Health Education of Johannesburg, on an internship at JRS. 

“It’s the first time we are teaching practical skills,” stated Barnaby Kangony, the Health Manager at JRS in South Africa. “JRS’s community healthcare workers assist over 30 patients in need of physiotherapy in Johannesburg, and around 29 in Pretoria,” he explained, “There are four community workers in Pretoria and four more and a nurse in Johannesburg, but they aren’t able to do everything.” After the workshop, he hopes that the caregivers will be able to offer the basic home based and rehabilitation assistance according to sanitary and safety protocols.

The training constituted an educative opportunity to enhance the participants’ knowledge regarding crucial activities such as learning how to transport a person with paralysis, change sleeping positions, hygienic practises to deal with open or contagious wounds and rehabilitation exercises. As well as spinal injury and ergonomics theory, posture practises and self-care while carrying out with the caregiving activity. “We have to take care of our patients but also we have to take care of us!” stressed Kedibone Muroa. 

She expects the training will allow the participants “to help themselves” and to be able to recover or help their relatives even when public healthcare services aren’t so accessible. “Money is necessary to get a shelter or food,” she stated, however, asylum seekers and refugees often can find themselves with a patient at home but no money to attend their needs. “And the hospital want documents from you… no documents, no treatment,” she added 

In open dialog with the medical professionals, the attendants shared their inquiries and experience. “I found [the workshop] very useful,” explained Precious, a 22 years old Zimbabwean living with her sister -also in the workshop- in Johannesburg. She has been experiencing leg paralysis for two years, after arriving to South Africa. According to her, she found answers to some of her health issues and feels encouraged to exercise more. “We didn’t know what to do before,” she added. 

Precious time runs most of the time at home, apart from a visit to the hospital once a month. She receives assistance by one of JRS healthcare workers and celebrates her improvement. Her strongest wish is to be able to walk again, to go outside. A moment which will bring her dreamt independence. She is already fighting for it. “I can wash my clothes alone and mop the floor,” she proudly affirms. 

With new knowledge and encouragement, patients and caregivers as Precious and her sister will continue working with hope towards dignity and resilience. New skills which complement their already best aptitude: the act of love and hope for a better future.

Precious’ real name has been changed to preserve her identity.

Press Contact Information
Irene Galera
+27 11 618 3404