Daniel and Loyid hard at work fixing the Pharmacy roof.

How Tintswalo's Unsung Heroes Transformed a Leaky Pharmacy Roof with Ingenuity and Smiles

November 2023
Volunteer story

One rainy day, Rhian from Tshemba asked me to come to the pharmacy at Tintswalo Hospital. On arriving I quickly noticed that the rain was coming through the pharmacy roof and the staff had to wear their raincoats indoors. On inspecting the roof, I noticed holes in the roof that were big enough for a person to fit through. The rain made working in the pharmacy extremely difficult for the staff. They were forced to push all the medications against the walls to avoid damage from the rain, and the amount of rain coming into the pharmacy made it extremely difficult to control the temperature, which is very important for drug storage. 

After a short discussion with Rhian about the roof, she introduced me to Loyid and Mumsy. They both work for the maintenance team at Tintswalo and were keen to fix it. Loyid studied engineering at college and is a natural at building and fixing things. Mumsy was able to collect all the material we needed, mainly using recycled material. The roof was fixed in 2 parts, first, the external roof needed to be re-sheeted, sealed, and painted. The second stage was to build a false internal roof. 

Loyid and I climbed the roof whilst Mumsy directed. Loyid led the way on the roof for 2 days under the hot sun, as I passed him the material he needed. Loyid only had a manual hand press for fastening the joints and I calculated he hand-fastened over 150 rivets. He covered an area of 7 by 10 meters with aluminium roof sheets. Finally, we sealed and painted all the joints on the roof. The internal false roof was completed a few weeks later, this roof was to keep the patient waiting area dry. The false roof was about 6 by 3 meters, and again mainly covered with recycled material. Fixing this roof required climbing into very small and tight spaces, whilst trying to place large aluminium sheets into these spaces. 

Loyid and Mumsy worked for multiple days in very warm weather, with heavy material, and on the roof of the hospital. They never complained, and always worked with a smile. They used recycled material to save money and used their limited number of tools to work wonders.

At Tintswalo Hospital there are a number of amazing medical staff members but also those behind the scenes who do not get a lot of recognition. Loyid and Mumsy are two examples of members of the maintenance team who work tirelessly with limited resources to help keep the hospital functional. It was honour to spend some time with them both and I am confident they will continue with their hard work.

By Daniel Bell

General Practitioner, United Kingdom