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Rophe – The community healer

Rophe Community Services, named after the Hebrew word meaning ‘healing’ or ‘healer,’ is a community-based organisation born out of a deep concern for the lack of resources and proper counselling for AIDS patients in 2001. The organisation was founded by Carole Mdluli through mobilising retired nurses and volunteers. 

Dealing with problems like not having enough funds and the right facilities, Rophe started in a small office with a committed team. “We had a tiny little office, which only had two rooms, but then we did capacity building with NACOSA and fortunately we were also funded for COVID 19,” Carole explains. 

The organisation’s turning point came through the capacity-building programme. “The mentorship and consultation meetings helped us to plan, structure our programs, and implement them,” she says. According to Carol, the capacity building programme from NACOSA helped the organisation to be recognised for their contribution to the well-being of the people in the community, and has opened doors for collaborations with government and other stakeholders.  

The organisation grew its services, with pillars like the People Who Use Drugs (PWUD) programme, social development initiatives and primary healthcare services. “We go out there, we provide health services for people who use drugs.” She explains. The programme expanded to offering social services like counselling, psychosocial support and sending PWUD for rehabilitation. 

Healthcare at Rophe

Patient receiving care at Rophe Community Services

“Community-based organisations increase awareness and encourage adherence to treatment.”

Carole says. She believes that community organisations are often more in touch with the community’s needs and can effectively address them.  

Community organisations, like Rophe, play an important role in ensuring that vulnerable populations have access to primary healthcare. They also run preventive programmes like condom distribution, PrEP, and education. Their contributions are important to the community’s well-being. 

“Capacity building brought us innovative ideas, made us know how to sustain our programmes, and attract people with skills.” Carole expressed pride in the organisation’s growth, saying, “Now we have a clinic, and we are almost about 99% of what we envisioned.”  

The dedication of Carole and her team, combined with effective capacity building, has turned Rophe into a success story for the community, proving the impact that community-driven healthcare programmes can have.  

Watch: Building systems to promote healing: Rophe Community Systems, Gauteng