Nomalungelo’s story

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Nomalungelo worked for a pizza restaurant in Newlands for 27 years. Last year, when she turned 60 years old, she handed in her resignation. She was looking forward to her retirement and resting after her many years of work.

Just one month later, Nomalungelo began to feel unwell. “I knew that I had diabetes but I had been treating it and it had not given me any real problems until that stage. But then I noticed that my fingers had started to turn black and I knew that I needed help.”

Nomalungelo went to the doctor, who advised her that she needed to have one finger amputated. Later that year, she also began to experience pain in her knees. She went back to the doctor and this time, she was told that her leg would need to be amputated. “I was shocked. I asked advice from my old boss at the pizza restaurant because I trusted him. He told me that I must do what the doctor said otherwise I could die.”

“They removed my leg. I could not stop crying afterwards. I hoped that they would give me a new prosthetic leg but I was told that they do not give prosthetics to people who lost their legs due to diabetes.”

When Nomalungelo came back from the hospital, her neighbours helped to care for her and clean her house.

“They gave me a lot of love and helped me a lot. I still felt sad though because my children never came to help me at home. Even when I was sick, they didn’t come. The only thing they want from me is money, so I need to rely on my neighbours for help.”

Nomalungelo lives in Harare, where she is provided with home-based care from Ikamva Labantu’s field workers, or “Umelwanes”. Our Umelwane programme provides support and companionship to senior citizens who are unable to attend our day clubs due to frailty or poor health. Nomalungelo is one of over 1,000 seniors who has received home-based care through Ikamva Labantu.