Island Hospice looks beyond donors 

Source: Island Hospice looks beyond donors – The Standard

Island Hospice and Healthcare executive director Mudiwa Ashley Mundawarara says the organisation is trying to expand its sources of income because foreign aid has gone down significantly.

Mundawarara (MM) made the revelations when he appeared on the platform In Conversation with Trevor hosted by Alpha Media Holdings chairman Trevor Ncube (TN).

 

He said the hospice with operations in Bulawayo, Mutare and Marondera was engaged in business ventures to augment the donations it receives.

TN: Mudiwa Ashley Mundawarara, welcome to In Conversation With Trevor.

MM: Thank you, Trevor.

 

 

TN: Great to have you here. To help us understand, Mudiwa, what the Island Hospice is all about. But first of all, Ashley,  what is the meaning of Ashley?

MM: Well,  apparently when my parents named me they named me Mudiwa obviously, and then I think my mother, she cannot remember whom exactly it was, but they met somebody with the name Ashley, and they really liked the name.

 

TN: They gave it to you?

MM: They gave me that name. That’s right. So I am named after some stranger that we cannot remember.

TN: The names we carry, and the meanings of our names, fascinating.

Mudiwa, you have done a pivot with your career. And I just want to find out why?

You were [in] 2007-2015 the CEO of MedScheme Zimbabwe.

And then from 2003-2011, going in reverse, you were the CEO of CAPS Holdings Limited.

And now you are the executive director of Island Hospice & Health Care. Why the pivot?

MM: Well, I must admit that it was a very good friend and older brother of mine Patrick Chingoka, who approached me, he was at the time deputy chairman of the board and chairman of the human resources committee of Island [Hospice].

The executive director was then leaving, they wanted somebody to come in with a business background because there was need for us as Island to start looking at ways of generating revenue because of flagging sort of contributions and donations.

Island has historically depended on donations, and the board felt that there was need for Island to take a little bit more charge of its revenue streams.

So they wanted somebody with a business background.

TN: But why did you take the job? What motivated you to agree to what Patrick was suggesting?

MM: Well, first of all Patrick is very persuasive.

TN: Hahaha. Yeah.

MM: And secondly, I think it had to do with at the time, I was also engaged in, you know I was a minister of an extraordinary ministry, minister of the Eucharist at church.

And it was something that really touched me, and I think the work sort of  seemed very similar.

And I think that since then it has proven to be just almost a life-changing experience.

TN: Talk to me about the work that touched you? Do you want to unpack that? The work that touched you.

MM: Well, Island Hospice deals with people who are suffering from chronic illnesses.

Sometimes it is people who are dying, although it is not all only about end-of-life care.

And the people that are there are amazing, tremendously talented, dedicated individuals and I have just seen them you know in the field; I have seen how they work, and it has really touched me.

I feel very privileged to actually be associated with and as part of such an an inspiring organisation.

TN: Correct me if I am wrong, Island Hospice [was] established in 1979, and perhaps one of the first in Africa? Am I right?

MM: In fact, Island Hospice was the first hospice in Africa.

Quite a few have come up since then. But yes, we will be 45-years- old this year, and that is quite a long time.

And if you travel throughout the continent, and you talk to anybody in palliative care, you will find that at one time they were  either trained by, worked at, or in some way sort of associated with Island.

So Island has quite a strong reputation throughout the continent.

TN: What does Island Hospice do? Do you want to just unpack the work that these wonderful people that you are talking about do on a day-to-day basis?

MM: I think in summary we work in palliative care. Now what is palliative care?

TN: Yeah.

MM: Palliative care recognises that the patient has more than just physical needs.

They have social needs, they have emotional needs, they have spiritual needs.

So, because of that when somebody is suffering from a chronic illness it does not just affect them, it affects the social structure that they [are] in.

Be it family or whatever. As a result, we get involved. Not just in treating.

Well, we do not even do the treatment, it is usually a doctor [who] refers a patient to us, he is the primary caregiver.

We provide supportive care. In fact, I think perhaps maybe what I should do is, what is more descriptive is supportive care.

TN: Okay.

MM: We work with doctors, we work with nurses, we work with social workers.

We can even work with physiotherapists, and various other people. We counsel the patient to deal with their illness, we counsel the patient’s family.

We work with their religious leaders, whatever religion they might be. You know we do not discriminate, be they Christian, be they Jewish, be they Muslim. And so we provide that supportive care.

And in the case of people who are on that last final journey, we walk through with them right through to that, including bereavement care afterwards.

Bereavement counselling for the families thereafter.

TN: And what is the footprint? The geographical footprint in Zimbabwe of Island Hospice and  Healthcare?

MM: Well, we operate from four different branches. We have our headquarters in Harare.

We operate in Bulawayo, Mutare and Marondera.

We would like to be everywhere, we would like to be in Midlands, we would like to be in Masvingo, maybe even in [Mashonaland] West, but resource constraints are such that we have to work with where we are right now.

TN: Resource constraints. I get the sense that with the war in Ukraine, with the war between Hamas and Israel, donor funding is constrained. Are you feeling that pain?

MM: Indeed. A number of different countries [are] more inward looking, and so they have tended to divert aid, as you said, to things such as Ukraine, but also shrinking sort of foreign aid has affected us quite considerably.

We are looking to try and expand beyond the traditional areas countries from which we have been funded.

You know the United Kingdom, we are looking now towards the Middle East, we are looking towards the Far East, and we want to look more towards even Africa.

You know high net worth individuals, foundations within Africa.

But I think allied to that, as I mentioned earlier on, is the fact that what we need to do is up our social enterprise activities.

Those businesses that we engage in to generate revenue for the organisation.

We operate a nursing agency, we hire out nursing agencies, and it is actually a good sort of adjunct to what we do because our nurse aides are trained in palliative care, so they are very good for taking care of either chronically ill patients or the elderly. We hire out medical equipment.

Acquiring that equipment is difficult. You know we are a nonprofit organisation?

TN: Yeah.

MM: So, we rely a lot on donations.

Interestingly enough, a lot of the equipment that we hire out comes from people whom we have served.

We recently had a family where the father passed away, they had invested in hospital beds and all kinds of equipment including oxygen concentrator and everything.

TN: Wow.

MM: And you know they donated it to Island in gratitude for what we do.

So, this is what helps to sustain us, one, and both materially and even morally.

 I think it is very good for our people when people come back and show gratitude.

We employ 37 to 38 people throughout the country; however, we have a volunteer force of close to 300.

And when you talk to the volunteers you will find that so many of them are people who will say you cared for my father, you cared for my grandfather, you cared for my whatever, and I want to channel it back.

We need to get that message out there to people, that we need your donations, not just materially, but even in terms of time.

People who really feel that they would like to give up their time to come and help people who are suffering from chronic illnesses etcetera.

By all means contact us. We will train you properly. We only put out properly and fully trained people.

We have volunteer caregivers who do counselling, but they have to go through 12 modules, and then even after that they are still vetted.

We still vet them to see if they are suitable for that kind of work.

TN: Somebody’s going to be watching now, as they do, and there’s a lot of other people appealing for support.

Why Island Hospice? Why should I turn my attention to Island Hospice? What would  be your message to them?

MM: Well, I know first of all the one thing people are concerned about is the money going to go where it should go.

Governance is very strong with us.

We have been in existence for 45 years. We have had 44 annual general meetings, at which we do table audited accounts. Our accounts are audited. This is a requirement, not just from our board, but even for the international donors, they usually want that.

So, you know that if you do contribute to Island, you do know that the funds will be handled properly.

Secondly, as I said, this is a service that I think a lot of people do not really appreciate until they need it.

When you are healthy it is fine, but when you are not healthy, and as said, you get diagnosed with a chronic illness like cancer it creates all kinds of problems.

You know the many misconceptions and what people associate with those with those diseases.

And we help you. We will help you. We will counsel you; we will counsel your family.

 You know kids, I think they need special attention when a parent is diagnosed with a chronic illness.

These are the sort of things that we help people with.

TN: You know as you are talking Mudiwa, you are taking me to our own personal circumstances, me and my wife.

Our mother-in-law was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and it is not something that you are familiar with, and suddenly you are landed with this condition that you do not understand.

So, I can understand and appreciate the importance of somebody talking to us about what Alzheimer’s is all about.

We have had to get  24/7 nursing care for my mother-in-law.

It was tough, it was painful, it was traumatic to us, to my wife in particular.

Just watching mom deteriorate the way she was until she started reaching out for support organisations within that space. Do you identify with that at all?

MM: Absolutely Trevor. That is precisely what we do.

As I said we work with social workers, clinical social workers, nurses. We advise not just the patient; we even advise the practitioners.

TN: Right.

MM: Some of our nurses and doctors are experts in pain management.

They can teach most medical professionals about that.

And even when it comes now to sensitising doctors and nurses and other health care professionals to the needs of people who suffer from chronic illnesses, that is what we do.

 

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