Frontline Health Worker: Ntokozo Zulu

WHW Ntokozo Cropped

“This one is one of my favorite pictures. This is Muzi and Patrick. I met them in January this year. They are my pride and my joy. This is where I get the courage to do what I do. This is recovery, retribution, and transformation all embedded in two people. This is where empathy and sympathy become a blur. This is friendship and trust intertwined.”
— Ntokozo Zulu, Clinical Associate, Pretoria, South Africa.

Ntokozo Zulu is a clinical associate in Pretoria, South Africa. Clinical associates are mid-level medical professionals who earn a Bachelor’s degree in Clinical Medical Practice from one of just three universities offering the program in South Africa.

“I am a part of the community orientated substance use program (COSUP), which seeks to help people with substance use disorders,” says Ntokozo.

“Heroin is known as nyaope in Pretoria. Our primary focus is to assist patients who are opioid dependent. We help them by means of harm reduction and by offering an opioid substitute — Methadone,” Ntokozo continues.
Working with the inner city team based in Sunnyside Pretoria, Ntokozo says she sees substance user patients, refugees, and homeless people on a daily basis.

“This has been a life-changing journey and the most fulfilling thing I have ever done in my life. One thing I have I have learned is that my job somehow helps people find their humanity,” she explains.

“The work I do has led me to ask myself about an old Zulu saying Ubuntu. Ubuntu is usually explained by appeal to the maxim: ‘A person is a person through other persons.’

I take this to mean that a human being can only be a person characterized by moral excellence only by having particular kinds of relationships with others,” Ntokozo says, wondering if we have attained that definition or are we each merely living for ourselves?

“This a question I am yet to answer,” she admits.