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The lifeblood of a community

Khayelitsha-based organisation Umthombo Wempilo has been part of the NACOSA network since 2020 and received capacity building support and a small grant as part of the Community Systems Strengthening programme. “We have been running as an organization for 14 years now but we have been lacking in most of the departments in the organization,” said Nikelwa Msipha from Umthombo Wempilo. 

The organisation received training and mentoring focused on governance, planning and fundraising. “For us it has helped a lot in terms of our governance and the sustainability of the organization because for some time we did not have funding,” said Nikelwa.  

Umthombo wempilo community organisationUmthombo Wempilo’s founder Buhlebenkosi Msipha explained: “Financial planning and planning for sustainability was the key. And this is where we actually started to work hard in making sure that the organisation is sustainable beyond. We’ve learned a lot from it and it actually contributed to us in accessing some of funding from the National Lotteries Commission.” 

The support went beyond the organisation. “It also helped the individuals that are in the in the organisation,” said Nikelwa. “The management is capacitated and knows what to do and we are able to implement the policies. Having good governance, sustainability plans and policies in place is helpful when you are writing a proposal.” 

But being part of the programme was not just about funding. “It is also delivering a good service to the community,” reported Nikelwa. 

Community organisations, as local advocates, play a crucial role in case identification, raising awareness, and ensuring accessible healthcare. According to Buhlebenkosi, community organisations are the lifeblood of the community:  

“It plays the role of catalyst in bringing the services closer to the people in the community. People in the community trust organizations more because they are used to seeing us.” 

“We started the organization because we wanted to invoke a new change in our community,” said Buhlebenkosi, and the change starts with the people who work at Umthombo Wempilo. “I love serving,” said Nikelwa proudly. “Being part of a community-based organisation made an impact in my life.” 

Communities and community organisations have been the heartbeat of the HIV, AIDS and TB responses for many years. To continue to do this vital work, organisations need flexible funding, capacity building support and networking, enabling them to come together to share and learn from each other and have a stronger voice in the response. 

Watch: The lifeblood of every community: Umthombo Wempilo, Khayelitsha