WHEELCHAIR USER SERVES HER COMMUNITY AS A PRIVATE CLINIC OWNER
28 Oct 2020
By Seema Johannes Seabela
A wheelchair user from Kanyamazane township, east of Mbombela, Mpumalanga province, is on the front lines of health care as the owner of Asiphileni private clinic.
Bongiwe Malope, aka Sister B, underwent nursing training in 2002 – 2005 at Mpumalanga Nursing College. In 2007 while working as a nurse, she was involved in a car accident that injured her spinal cord and resulted in her using a wheelchair.
Eight months after the accident, she went back to nursing because “I couldn’t make a career switch because I am passionate about nursing and I love what I do and can function fully at a primary health care facility,” Malope says.
“I quickly adjusted to having a disability and taught colleagues about disability and they could see through me that it is possible to do anything you put your mind to. My family has been so supportive. It is where I draw strength. Even now they are still my greatest support system,” the 38-year-old adds.
She says her family is very proud of her success and service to her community, and that they are most proud of the fact that instead of being the one taken care of, considering that she uses a wheelchair, she is taking care of other people’s health.
Malope briefly left nursing in 2015 to work for the South African Social Security Agency as a disability practitioner. However, in 2017 she decided to pursue her dream of owning a private clinic and established Asiphileni which is fully accessible to wheelchair users and offers primary and occupational health care services.
She got the licence to run a clinic through the South African Nursing Council and Board of Health Funders. Malope went on to acquire more academic credentials: diplomas in nursing administration, primary health care, and disability studies.
She says her clinic is not a rival to the government’s clinics and hospitals. “The government has limited resources that are strained due to an increase in demand for health services. My clinic seeks to try and lend a helping hand where the government is not able to,” Malope says.
During hard lockdown levels five and four Asiphileni clinic was only operational on alternative days with appointments, but since level three the clinic is open six days a week, Monday to Saturday, from 09:00 to 18:00.
Nokulunga Mahlalela, 38, a regular client of the clinic told ThisAbility that, “I am happy with the service that I get at Asiphileni. The difference between the private clinic and government clinic is that the waiting period to be attended to is not long. It is less than an hour normally, depending on how many clients are there on that particular day.”
One of two people employed by Malope from the community of Kanyamazane is Sinethemba Simelane, who has been working as a receptionist since June. “I enjoy working for Bongiwe Malope. She is a great person to work with,” Simelane says.