Life as an immigrant is always difficult, one has to make do with learning a new language, a new culture and basically of starting afresh.
In all its hardness, an immigrant life is further worsened by the fact that there aren’t any pillars of strength around, in all the highs and lows, one has to face everything that life throws at them single-handedly. However, for one lady, Ruth Mufalali-van Rooyen, she has managed not only to survive in a foreign country but to actually lead a life that’s fulfilling and envied by many.
35-year-old Ruth Mufulali moved to South Africa from her home country some years’ back. Against all odds, she managed to find her feet quickly in a new land and forged a path for success. With a passion for community development, Ruth was fortunate to establish a working relationship with the South African Red Cross Society in the Eastern Cape Province.
Rising through the ranks, Ruth is now the provincial program’s manager for the Red Cross Society. Her position in the Red Cross Society is helping her to pursue her dreams. With the organisation, Ruth is working to improve the livelihoods of the most vulnerable and making basic services i.e. health care more accessible to them.
Ruth acknowledges that community development work is in its own right ‘difficult’ but it is due to her passion and determination in changing the livelihoods of the most vulnerable that she faces the challenges and maddeningly frustrating situations of her job with an open, caring and smiling heart.
Ruth says her organisation works with various people in the local communities of the Eastern Cape Province through a variety of initiatives some of which include educational classes to social activities, care/support groups, volunteering and other community services.
In her work and also in her personal life, Ruth has had some challenges some of which emanated from her young age, living in a foreign country and also gender issues among others.
Despite the challenges, Ruth is optimistic that the future holds good things for her. In the coming few years, Ruth says she wants to complete a master of public health degree. With regards to the master of public health degree in helping her achieve her goals, Ruth says “I think policy really is a sustainable way of change; it ensures that there is a level of investment in certain issues. When I think about sustainable change, I see that by being a policy maker or a policy analyst. And I want to complement that with a public health degree because I would be able to take those human experiences and those human interactions to continue to drive my level of efforts and analysis around policy implementation.”
Ruth says the Red Cross Society is open any day and at any time and everyone who wants to know what the organisation is doing can follow her blog to learn about all the programs currently under implementation and also past programs.
Ruth’s commitment to community development transcends beyond her job as she also hosts a radio show on a local radio station (IFM) where she presents on health and social issues that community members are faced with.
Ruth has a 9-year-old son and in her spare time, she listens to music from Janet Jackson, brandy, and Shekinah.
She says the best advice I received was from my mentor DR Michael Charles, the head of country office South Sudan, working for the International Federation of the Red Cross (IFRC) who told me to “always follow and trust my gut,” it is this same piece of advice that she leaves for everyone looking to better their lives and follow their dreams.