Communities are built by women who have open hearts and open doors to help those in need and take charge when the state fails people all the time.
“My proudest moments are when I walk away from any scene having offered some assistance,” says Lungi Mamabolo. The 37-year-old works for a financial services provider, but what makes her the happiest is helping others in her community.
Mamabolo says she may not have much to offer, but she is using her God-given gifts of wisdom and strength to help build communities, families and young people.
Working in her community, she has taken on the role of a ward councillor by helping where help is needed. Mamabolo says that, once she embarked on this journey, looking back has never been an option for her.
In the absence of leadership from the appointed councillor in her area, Mamabolo voluntarily took on many of the councillor’s responsibilities. The community has many issues with service delivery, bad roads and even water disconnections, so she took it upon herself to get in touch with the relevant stakeholders to sort out problems. She also organised services such as water tanks, and would personally drive around to deliver this resource to the community.
She says: “It pleases me to be there for people, be it through assisting with community service delivery or attending to crucial domestic matters.”
Along with a group of other concerned individuals, she has created several teams who tackle issues in the community.
Mamabolo says people have also called her many times to intervene in domestic issues.
It was the experiences she went through during her childhood that taught her to always push to be better than she was yesterday.
“When you do things from the heart, it shows,” she says, and sometimes she puts too much heart into what she does. She sometimes even compromises her family time to help those in need.
Even during the lockdown, Mamabolo has continued her good work. She sent a message to a regional director of the City of Johannesburg asking for assistance for the community. She says it was a big surprise when the director came through and helped her to organise food parcels for the community. This helped to ensure that the community was fed every Saturday. And it was all because of the fortitude and determination Mamabolo has shown.
It’s also her motto in life. She tells young people that you lose nothing by helping other people, be it by making a call to the City of Joburg, or taking food out of your cupboard to share with others. She says she was raised by her late maternal grandmother, who taught her that the best way to self-heal is to do something for other people and see the joy in their eyes.
Another important value Mamabolo uses in her daily life is staying humble. She tries not to “blow my own horn”. Instead, she believes being humble has the greatest returns. Working every Saturday since lockdown, she says she is constantly motivated to do more.
Known affectionately in her community as Sis Lungi, Mamabolo does not differentiate between who needs help. And hearing the words of gratitude from the community makes her tear up. From the old to the young in the community, she helps everyone.
Mamabolo wears many hats and has managed to do fantastic things in all she sets out to do. The support of her husband and her community and church are what give her the necessary strength to continue doing her important work.
“It’s these life experiences that I have taught my own children to be grateful for, for they give me a peaceful night’s sleep,” she says.