Western Cape Health Minister, Dr Nomafrench Mbombo, personally took the promotion of health and well-being of young people to False Bay TVET College, motivating students with her own life stories.
Dr Mbombo, together with Higher Health and various other stakeholders, such as Non-Governmental Organizations and the corporate sector, visited the college’s Khayelitsha Campus on Friday to engage with mostly students but also with staff and members of the community about health-related matters.
The visit was part of her Western Cape-wide awareness campaign at TVET colleges, and comes on the back of previous research that shows that young people don’t often visit health care centres as they found them not to be youth-friendly.
The reason, according to Dr Mbombo, is that TVET colleges also don’t normally have fully-fledged campus health like universities, which is why High Health was donating mobile clinics that come with a professional nurse and render most of the services that are being offered at primary health care.
“Ideally when that mobile clinic comes it must be a one-stop-shop where there will be NGOs creating awareness, testing for TB and other illnesses, vaccination and screening, not only for diabetes and hypertension but also for issues related to mental health.”
Dr Mbombo encouraged students to take care of their health and wellbeing. “First things first, as a student, prioritize your health and well-being. And a wise student knows his or her own health status.”
She said her department has joined forces with High Health and is adding other services to their mobile clinics that are aimed at addressing challenges that are impeding young people to complete their studies. These include HIV, TB, gender-based violence and mental health which has become a big issue after Covid-19. Financial wellbeing, sexual reproduction, sexuality, as well as alcohol and substance abuse were also found to be issues facing young people, especially thosein the higher education sector.
“As the Western Cape government, we have a strategy that by age 25 we want a young person who is independent, responsible, inspired, healthy, socially connected, economically viable and with all the support to flourish.”
Dr Mbombo, also spoke of how, despite finishing her matric as a top student, she had to work as a domestic worker in her home City of East London due to a lack of funds. She said she was fired many times, which was painful, but was relieved when her last employer chastised her that “you don’t belong here, pack your bags and go”.
“Those words were sweet music to me. Deep down I said she is right, I don’t belong here. I don’t belong in this kitchen and I don’t belong to be a domestic worker. I felt so free.”
Dr Mbombo went on to study further up to a doctoral level and serves as a professor at a local university before joining the provincial government. “Some of you will be MEC or principals of this college. You must never lose hope. You are the architect of your destiny. Because somehow there’s a plan for you. I never knew I could be here or be a professor there. I was about to be a domestic worker but I refused to accept it. Your attitude is your altitude. Go and fetch your future.”
Ms Didi Assure-Wertheim, Academic Manager at False Bay College, said the event was one of the ways that the College is demonstrating its commitment to the holistic development of students. “We want our students when they graduate to be well-rounded, well-integrated, balanced human beings.”
Ms Anethemba Mgijima, Vice-chairperson of the Students Representative Council at False Bay TVET College, thanked Dr Mbombo, the False Bay College and High Health for their efforts which were immensely beneficial to students. “Before coming to False Bay TVET College, I was unaware of regular testing and screening, lifestyle diseases such as blood pressure and cholesterol,” she said.
“But through attending campus events like wellness days, I have been educated around the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. As students, we are also informed about the importance of financial awareness, teaching us valuable skills that will benefit us way beyond our time at False Bay TVET College.
Author: Myolisi Gophe