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The Cost of Providing “Invisible Services”

Words: Kelly du Plessis

Another Mandela Day has gone, charities around the country have had an injection of hope that help is on the way. But what happens today, next week, next month, as all of us in the NPO sector struggle to survive another day, waiting for the next Mandela Day to approach?

For us, as a patient advocacy group, it’s exceptionally tough. We don’t have cute puppies to cuddle, we not building any buildings, we not providing warm meals at a soup kitchen. What we do isn’t tangible. You can’t touch it, or hold it, or see it.

We, are trying to change legislation, we providing input to policy, we trying to change the landscape for patient access. We are working towards a brighter future that you can’t see now.

We are working towards our grandchildren being able to receive the medical care they need, regardless of who they are or where they come from, and irrespective of how expensive their treatments are. We are working towards ensuring that equity in healthcare exists, that doesn’t mean we all have the same “benefits”, it means that we all get the benefits we need to make us better.

We working towards improved quality of life. How do you price that? How can you put a tangible measure in place to quantify that?

As an organisation seeking funding, we “compete” against the fluffy kittens, the homeless, those without access to education. We have to justify why budget allocations should move away from HIV and TB and support us instead.

So what happens? We back down. Because we know that all of our “competitors” are doing the best they can too, and their work is equally important. We all in this together. We all work ourselves to the bone in our area of expertise trying to make this country a better place for all who live here.

So what’s the point of this post? I’m not entirely sure…

I’m hoping to educate those out there on the stressful environments we work in.

I’m hoping that South Africans will work towards a culture of “Giving” all year round and not just in July.

I’m hoping that our community will see that change is being made, even though you can’t touch it.

I’m hoping we will continue to survive as an organisation so that we can keep doing what we know we can.

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