What is your role in Holy Spirit Region?
My role is to supervise the Health Care Department in Cabrini Ministries Eswatini, bringing the love of Jesus to the most vulnerable communities we serve through our nursing care services. I also collaborate with other departments (Family Services and Education) & the communities they are serving, & maintain strong relationships with our stakeholders.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I am from Bulawayo in Zimbabwe, and was born in December 1979. I was baptized Sarah Sukokuhle Sikhululekile Tshuma – which means “Mother of the Nations” (Sarah), “special day to celebrate” (Sukokuhle), “with a warm open heart” (Sikhululekile).
The idea of being a nurse grew on me in childhood, as I witnessed health problems within my family. For example, during an outbreak of malaria, many in my family were extremely sick, bedridden and needing special nursing care. My mother had to do farming, and left me to care for the sick ones. Thus I realized that nursing suited me, & I could do it well!
And your family?
My family is relatively small. Currently, my mother, Hildah, and my 7 year old daughter, Buhle, live with me. We keep in touch with my sister in Zimbabwe, and my brother in South Africa. We love & pray for each other, and also try to visit each other occasionally.
Your Cabrini History – how did you meet the MSCs?
This is an interesting one! I remember it was in April 2010. Arriving in Swaziland in 2006, I started working in a clinic in Ezulwini. As a nurse I often worked overtime as needed. However, I soon realized I was being taken advantage of, as I was a foreigner, and ‘cheap labor’. My duties were heavy, and remuneration too little. I brought this to management, but they would not understand. Meanwhile, I saw an advertisement: Cabrini Ministries (CM) asking for nurses, and I applied. I left my job as I knew I did not belong there & was quickly hired by another clinic in Manzini, and after about a month, there was still no response from CM. I had some problems with my residence permit, as my former employer took me to Home Affairs. They treated me badly as I was a Zimbabwean desperate for a job. Then I resigned from this new job to avoid conflict, and resolved to go back home. I wanted to change my SIM card so I wouldn’t have any more problems, but just before doing it… the sisters called me!
I came to St. Philip’s for interview and there met Bongani Khumalo, who was also applying for a nurse position. The sisters contacted me a week later, to know more about me, so we scheduled a meeting. I shared my past history, and they asked me to join CM. I took a deep breath and say ‘yes’ to the challenge: St. Philip’s is in a very remote area, the remotest I had ever been, with very terrible roads at that time! I used to take 5 hours from Manzini to St. Philip’s. “Am I really prepared for this?” I asked myself often. “Transport is really a challenge; communications are also a challenge; how am I going to survive in that place? Even shops are extremely far”. But the sisters were very sweet to me and told me not to worry as they would help me. So, I said to myself: “Why not grab the opportunity?”
My first month was difficult, but Bongani & I encouraged each other. He was going to Outreach almost every day, and I was at the Clinic working hard all day. After 6 weeks, Sr. Diane named Bongani as Manager of the facility. The sisters were always talking with us, checking how things were going, asking how did we think that things could improve etc. Sr. Barbara always encouraged me to improve my skills, and together with Bongani & another nurse, we all graduated in ‘Management in Nursing’! Eventually, I became Nurse Manager in St. Philip’s Clinic, working to ensure good practice. This way, I was not only protecting myself, but protecting the good name and high purpose of Cabrini Ministries, this organization that I love.
What do you hope for with HSR?
We want the sisters to know how much we value their spiritual support. I hope this support continues and grows, allowing the charism of Cabrini to grow and take root in the laity at Cabrini, and through them, in the people we serve. I hope that at some point, we managers, can take the lead in sharing the Word of God, sharing about Cabrini, and one day, everyone will be doing it!
What are your dreams for the future?
For the organization, my dream is about you sisters! There has been some instability within the organization at different levels. This has certainly affected us. I hope for stability for the organization, even with the many changes. I hope everyone is willing to keep openness and embrace the dynamics of life.
And for me personally, I dream of a good life for my daughter. My life revolves around her and my work. I dream of growing professionally, being flexible with changes, and to give the best life I can to my child. I want to make sure she grows in the best environment. I want to be the best person I can be, and praise the Lord for it. I want to raise my child to be fond of the Lord, too. We are where we are today because of His Mercy.
(Thanks to the Holy Spirit Newsletter and Sarah for this interview)