South Africa – Embo

Embo, KwaZulu Natal


Embo is an “informal settlement” in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa with a population of 37,000 people. HIV incidence is shockingly high among 15 to 50 year olds. Yet there is no doctor. The Health Authority is overwhelmed.  Indeed, until a local church – with MAI’s help – got stuck in, people with HIV had little by way of help and hope.

DumisaniEmbo Community Church began a home care giving programme which MAI has been supporting since 2008/9.  Trained local volunteers are paid a stipend and are overseen by a qualified nurse with MAI funding for a driver, vehicle and consumables.  In an average month, the Caregivers care for over 50 patients and their families bringing comfort and hope as well as practical support such as oversight of medication, bed making and advice on hygiene, sexual health and diet.

While this was a welcome initiative, MAI discovered that many people who had been referred by these Caregivers to a distant Clinic to discover their status frequently defaulted on their medication.  Sometimes this was a failure to understand the need to continue the antiretrovirals even when feeling better.  But primarily it was due to the challenge of having the energy or funds to make the arduous journey to the Bothas Hill Clinic which was not directly accessible from Embo.


Clinic 24102014 001As a result, in 2014, MAI fully funded a Clinic building for Embo which is helping to transform the health outcomes in the valley.  The church is a fully recognised private healthcare provider with the Clinic running costs met be the KwaZulu Health Authority. Now in a typical month there are over 3,000 appointments, including hundreds of children who, without the Clinic existing, would never have received life-saving vaccinations.  Most exciting of all, whereas the church used to hold two or three funerals a week in 2009, in 2017 there were only 3 deaths among the clients supported by this programme – more than 200!

In average month, we have found that 87% of the Caregivers’ clients are stable or improving.  60% of the clients will have committed to attend a self help group established by the church to improve the mental health of clients through shared stories and overcoming the stigma that still exists in the community.


IMG_0032 (800x533)Shortly after the Clinic was built, the Health Authority introduced new regulations requiring separate entrances and consultation rooms for TB sufferers.  This is designed to prevent cross-contamination, both for clients and staff.  This is a significant need as TB is a frequent consequence of suffering with HIV.  To meet these new requirements, MAI has enabled the church to complete an extension to the Clinic which will become fully operational in 2018.

Both the Clinic and the TB extension are completed capital projects, costing the charity £125,000 and £65,000 respectively.  However, the Caregiving programme is an on-going cost to MAI and your support would be much appreciated as we await the development of local business activity to ensure sustainability into the future and avoiding dependency.  Just £20 a month enables the support of a person suffering from HIV, including the Caregiver, transport and consumables.


Tholakele How the Caregiving programme in Embo transforms lives.

Caregiver Lillian has worked with her for some years.  She began when this single woman had come out of hospital with no one to care for her.  She had been diagnosed with HIV at her antenatal check-up.  She went into premature labour and the baby was stillborn.  Because of her newly diagnosed condition, she was kept in hospital. Further tragedy occurred when her boyfriend was killed in a car accident.  She became very depressed.  That was when Lillian heard about her.  Once the lady came home, Lilian began caring for her.   Now, she is much better on her medication.  She is so thrilled with the work of the Caregivers that now she volunteers to work alongside the MAI supported Caregivers and loves helping others who are sick.  She is also keeping well enough to hold down a job at the supermarket, able to support herself while giving back to her community.


Leonard tour success

The visit of our South African Partner, Pastor Leonard Gcabashe, was a great occasion. Accompanying Leonard on the tour for the first was our new Executive Director, Steve Travis.  The tour of England and Northern

Two Volunteers report on their visit to Embo

Caroline writes: This man is a 41 year old male patient that the caregiving team currently supports.  He shared some of his story with us and he has a very positive outlook on life that

Embo Extension nears completion

We are very excited!  As the latest image shows, the walls of the TB Clinic extension are up and the roof is on!  Thanks to good weather, things have progressed well and are on track

Extension underway at Embo Clinic

The foundations of a new extension serving TB patients have been laid.  Work will commence shortly on the walls and an order has been placed for the roof.  MAI has been raising funds for this

Embo Partner visits UK in March!

Pastor Leonard Gcabashe who leads the Embo Community Church - our healthcare Partner in KwaZulu Natal - will be in the UK soon - from March 17 to April 2. These are Leonard's confirmed public

Pastor Leonard to visit UK in April

Our dear friend and Partner, Leonard Gcabashe, will be back in the UK in April.  He will report on progress in healthcare provision in the valley of Embo and share the latest developments and opportunities.