Wir leben wohl alle in unserer eigenen Welt. Manchmal sind selbst Menschen, die geographisch ganz nah sind, uns in ihrer Art zu leben, zu arbeiten und zu sein ganz fern. Kayamandi liegt nur wenige Kilometer entfernt von der Friedenskirche und doch gibt es zwischen den Menschen hier und dort kaum eine Verbindung. Man hört so manches und es bilden sich leicht Urteile übereinander, doch kennen tut man sich wenig. 

Ich habe das Privileg ab und zu in Kayamandi zu arbeiten. Und dabei lerne ich Menschen kennen, unter denen mich die Krankenschwester, die ich hier vor-stellen will, besonders berührte. Vielleicht kann ihr kleines Porträt dazu beitra-gen, einander vor Ort offener zu begegnen. 

You have to travel up the hill deep into Kayamandi. Past houses and shacks, people washing clothes, frying meat, chatting, past little shops, courtyards, narrow streets to reach the local clinic. Many people are sitting and waiting outside to be seen. Those coming to collect their antiretroviral medication having appointments at the HIV clinic will see Sr Zukiswa Ketelo. Sr Ketelo is well known and highly respected in the community. She has been working in Kayamandi for many years. 

Like Walter Sisulu, she comes from Ncobo (Engcobo), a little town between Sterkspruit and Queenstown in the Eastern Cape. It remains her home. She has built a house there. 

Very early on in life her father died and her mother left her eldest daughter behind to found another family with a new husband. Zukiswa stayed with her grandmother, who passed away when she was seven. She joined an aunt, who struggled with the fact that she was more intelligent than her own children. Zukiswa urgently wanted to study further. In order to do so, she ran away to another aunt, the younger sister of her mother. From her she got love and support, her first shoes, a school uniform made new from discarded fabric. 

Zukiswa passed all exams with flying colours and went for her matric, still very young and innocent. Her first son was born and the small family moved to Cape Town to find a living. Zukiswa worked hard; she took whatever job she could find. She got married and had three more children but never lost her vision of furthering her education. After years of trying in vain, she got accepted to study nursing; she sailed through her studies, despite having to work as a nursing assistant at the same time to care for her family. 

Today she is a highly competent, experienced sister dedicated to the community at Kayamandi. Always up to date with medical standards, she puts her heart and her mind into her work. She is passionate and rational at the same time, wise and full of humour, caring for everyone with all she has despite many challenges. The clinic is short-staffed, there is no permanent manager at the moment, the computers were stolen and the building is old and too small. “You must always leave some space for disappointment,” she says, “then you will manage well”. She tries to do her work as best as she can; her standards are high. She never stops learning. For her whole life she has been hardworking. Her care for her patients is holistic and covers all needs and necessities. Tea and lunch breaks are postponed to attend to all the patients. She starts and ends her day with a prayer. In 2005 she became a Christian. Looking back on her life she quotes Jeremiah 29.11: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. She says: “Everything that happened during my life was good, even if it was hard or not good. It was meant to be and it brought me to where I am now. I share my story with others to give them hope and trust.” 

The English meaning of her name is Glory. 

(I told Sr Ketelo that I wanted to write a little something about her to publish in our Gemeindebrief; and that it was meant to bring Kayamandi closer to this congregation. I sent her the little portrait and she was happy with it. Only then did I find out that she also speaks about her life to people in her community and her congregation. “It will give them hope and encouragement not to give up,” she says. I am very grateful that she allowed me to share it here.) 

Sigrid Schulz