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.


2014 Embo Volunteer Team

Eight volunteers and MAI Executive Director, John Earwicker, have returned from a visit to Embo. After an initial orientation visit to Johannesburg's Apartheid Museum and Soweto, the team spent 8 days helping MAI's Partner in KZN,

Clinic Roof is on!

On Friday 4th July, the roof of the Embo Clinic was complete!  Action now moves to the inside, with the doors being fixed and plastering underway!  The MAI Volunteer Team to Embo will be amazed

Clinic ahead of schedule – twice!

The Clinic will soon be finished - ahead of schedule.  Please take a look at the latest visual update at: We hope to add some pictures of the inside in the next few days!

Banbury to Paris Bike Ride Completed!

Bill and Jon have completed their sponsored bike ride in aid of the Embo Clinic appeal!  They rode from Banbury to Paris in July, covering 280 miles (not counting the Channel!) over 4 days. They rode an

Clinic taking shape!

May 1st saw the soil broken in Embo on the clinic site. With the signing of a formal agreement between the KwaZulu Health Department and Power of God Community Church that secures funding for four

Tour for Embo success

Audiences from 1 to 300 listened to Pastor Gcabashe with rapt attention as he shared the vision of his church to provide a clinic at the heart of his community in KwaZulu Natal. Although his