“There are lots and lots of small ways to make a positive impact – it doesn’t have to be big.”
He listens. He guides. He encourages. Meet Rufus Moagi, a Rotarian who is working relentlessly to ensure that the people of the Tembisa township in Gauteng, South Africa live healthy lives — and he does so without a second thought. “It all started about 10 years ago,” says Rufus.
“I had a small stationery business, which gradually expanded to making frames, embroidery, banner printing, etc. A friend of mine ordered a frame and when I reached the delivery address, I realised that it was meant for the President of the Rotary Club. I got inquisitive about the work Rotary does, and they invited me to be a part of the Rotary Family Health Day program. Thus, my journey with Rotary began.”
Since then, Rufus has been tirelessly advocating for the right to a healthy life for the people of Tembisa, connecting them with RFHD services and ensuring that the free health services are accessible to each and every individual. “I have benefited emotionally more than I have given. That is the beauty of working with an organisation like Rotary,” he says.
“Rotary has not just helped me grow my business, but has given me a fulfilling feeling by helping me reach out to the disadvantaged sections of society.”
A Day at the Site
Describing the buzz at the Family Health Days, Rufus says that it is amazing to see the number of people who attend the program. “I have a truck and a bakkie (pickup truck), so I carry all the tents, banners and posters, and help set up everything at the site. I travel a lot with Sue Paget, CEO of RFHA Inc., and I have seen her go above and beyond to make sure help reaches the people in need.
“What Rotary is doing to help the underprivileged is not something you see a lot. People in these communities have no knowledge about how important it is to get a health check-up done regularly — and those who do know can’t afford it. Rotary is making it possible for them,” says Rufus.
Describing the Health Days as emotional events, Rufus explains that, in some provinces, people struggle to get proper healthcare. Diseases like tuberculosis and HIV go undetected, and most of these communities don’t even have access to basic medical care. “We go out in the local areas, talk to people, convince them to come and avail of the free health check-ups. Sometimes, we also reach out to the older people who cannot travel to the sites and ensure that they receive the health services they need.”
For these health heroes, the day starts with setting up at the site as early as 4am, and they’re often still serving the local people late into the evening. “We are the first ones to arrive at the site and the last ones to leave — but it is all worth it when you serve a large community of people who [otherwise] have no access to even basic healthcare. My heart goes out to these people and I wish the government could do more for them. They all deserve to live a healthy life, and they must not struggle with that,” he says.
Rufus not only helps with the site set-up and banner printing, but you might also spot him wandering around the local areas with a loudspeaker in his hands, educating people about the importance of the Family Health Day program. “People must be made aware of the importance of such initiatives.”
A Small Step Makes a Big Difference
Sharing an incident that was particularly heart-warming for him, he says, “You meet so many people at these events, hear so many stories, learn about their struggles, and it moves you. I remember meeting two girls who worked as sex workers. I listened to their stories, talked to them and finally convinced them to come for a free health check-up. They turned up at the next Health Day, and I was happy.
“What really touched my heart was when I received a call from one of the girls a few days after, and she informed me that she found a job and had also enrolled in a course. I have no words to describe how I felt that day. A small step can make a huge difference in someone’s life. You must give people one chance. The girl calls me once in a while and shares her progress in her job and studies. That is fulfilling,” he says with pride.
Back To School
Apart from his work with the Rotary Club, Rufus is also actively involved in helping the kids in his community to start school, distributing stationery from his shop and uniforms to local children to encourage them to get a proper education. “My childhood wasn’t an easy one. My mother had nine children and she was a single mom. Imagine the life we had. At a very early age, I had to start earning to support my family. I do not want other kids in my community to go through the same thing. Education is important, and I try to help as many as I can,” he adds.
Watching someone find the light at the end of the tunnel is an indescribable feeling. Thanks to his tireless work with the Rotary Club and his impact on his local community, Rufus benefits from this rewarding feeling every day. “I am a happy man. I have four children and two beautiful grandkids. They are sitting next to me as I am doing this interview. I’m a 52-year-old ‘young’ grandfather,” he ends, with a chuckle.