When a community comes together

18/08/2020

“If Ubuntu could be given a location, it would have to be the small community of Zone 7 eThembalethu in George.”

These were the words of Ntandazo Botoman, a security officer at Nelson Mandela University’s George Campus, as he shared the role his community played in his COVID-19 recovery journey.

Having grown up in the small village of Ngqamakhwe in the Eastern Cape, 30-year-old Ntandazo knew all about the importance of a community but was overwhelmed by the support of his neighbours in Thembalethu.

Ntandazo is one of several University staff members who are sharing their experiences to create awareness about COVID-19 prevention measures and to offer hope.

“In 2014, I travelled over 650km to seek employment in the Southern Cape. I never thought that one day I would be sitting here sharing gratitude to the community of Thembalethu Zone 7 in George,” says the shy young man as he recalls his journey to recovery.

Like many, Ntandazo experienced a few of the COVID-19 symptoms – a loss of appetite and mild headaches. As a result, he immediately alerted George Campus Health officials, who screened him and referred him to the local testing facility.

His results came back positive and so began his journey in fighting the virus and experiencing the kindness and support of his community.

“The first thing I did when my results came back was to alert my immediate neighbours.”

Ntandazo explains that his living facilities includes the use of communal bathrooms.

“It was important for me to act responsibly and ensure that my neighbours were safe and aware.”

He also contacted his local ward committee member to see if he could be allocated a separate bathroom facility. While this was not possible, his neighbours came together agreeing that if each undertook the necessary precautionary measures, they could all use the facilities.

“We each sanitised and cleaned the facilities and wore our masks,” he says.

As Ntandazo stays alone and needed to self-isolate, his neighbours “showed up” again, offering to buy his essential needs from the local supermarket. They would take it in turns, standing at his gate, asking him if he needed anything from the shops. If so, Ntandazo would sanitise his money and items were purchased for him.

“Throughout my recovery journey, my neighbours ensured that I had all I needed.”

Ntandazo is also grateful to the Campus Health team, as they called him daily, checking up on his wellbeing and ensuring that he was kept mentally positive throughout his recovery

“I am also grateful for the University’s Memos (staff emails) and its dedicated COVID-19 website (www.mandela.ac.za/coronavirus ) for the information provided on the virus as I immediately knew what to do.”

Now back at work after finishing his 14-day isolation period, Ntandazo wishes to encourage everyone to take the necessary precautions and follow the safety measures that have been put in place. 

 “It is up to each of us to take responsibility for ourselves, protect ourselves and those around us” concludes Ntandazo.