Nursing Assistant Jennet Ralawe recently retired from the Masakhane Clinic in Aberdeen after 40 years of service to the local community.
Jennet started her nursing career at Midland Hospital in Graaff-Reinet in 1971, where she was one of the first nurses to be enrolled by the South African Nursing Council. After two years, she was transferred to Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, where she spent a further two years.
In 1979 she moved to Aberdeen, initially employed by the Cacadu District Municipality, and since 2011 by the Department of Health.
Jennet worked on the mobile unit with a professional nurse, visiting the farms in the district on a regular basis. She was a wonderful role model for her colleagues, always punctual, and will be remembered as a very caring part of the clinic’s team. She was always only a phone call away for her farm patients, and her cheerful nature lifted the spirits of many a patient.
She was honoured at two special functions.
On Friday 31 May, about 50 friends and colleagues attended an official function at the Library Hall, organised by colleagues Florence Africa, Gladys May and Maureen Venter. Several representatives from the local District Office in Graaff-Reinet were present, and spoke fondly of Jennet’s sterling work over her 40 years of service. Local farmer Garth Featherstone arranged sponsorship from the farming community, and many local businesses also made donations towards the function.
Professional Nurse Eileen Lamprecht, who retired last year after seven years of service at the clinic, was also a guest of honour at the event.
On 5 June, members of the Aberdeen Farmers’ Association also held a farewell function for “Sister Jennet”, as she was affectionately referred to by all. “She is a well- known face to the farming community, bringing the mobile clinic and much- needed medicines to the farm workers” explained Petro Marx, on behalf of the Association.
After a welcome from Hantie Marx, chairperson of the Association, Petro shared impressions of Jennet from her co-workers. They described her as a motherly figure, good hearted and totally unique, and someone who always put other people’s needs in front of her own.
Speaking on behalf of the Aberdeen farming community, Petro indicated that Jennet’s smile and warm, humble personality will be greatly missed.
People at the meeting shared their memories of Jennet. For some such as Linda van der Merwe, the clinic bus’s unexpected visits on farms serve as a very welcomed surprise, especially for those farmers’ wives on the more remote farms who did not get a chance to talk to someone as often as they would like.
Jennet also shared some of her memories for the time she served with the clinic bus, and there was a great deal of laughter at some of the stories she told.