As CEO and director at Tshemba, Barbara McGorian is exceptionally busy. Having spent most of her adult life in the corporate sector focussing on bottom lines, she is inspired by the philanthropic environment at Tshemba, which is without hidden business agendas. With hard workers like Barbara, Tshemba produces tangible results for the community, while offering an inspiring and unique experience for the doctors who volunteer.
So, what does Barbara have to say?
1. What do you do at Tshemba?
I am the CEO and a director.
2. How long have you been there?
Since April 2017.
3. Why did you decide on Tshemba?
For the past three years I have been a director of Tshemba. When I took early retirement from a very demanding job in the corporate world, part of my portfolio, amongst many others, was to manage the CSI for the company. I found this to be the most rewarding part of the job and so when I was approached to come on board as CEO and become far more active in getting Tshemba up and running, I jumped at the chance.
4. What is the most challenging thing about what you do?
Initially everything! I come from a media background and so getting into a medical and health environment took me completely out of my comfort zone. But because it was such a challenge, I learned very quickly what to do and saw every aspect of my job through new eyes, without the jaded negativity one tends to feel after doing something for too long. Now I am constantly looking for new ways to increase our impact in rural healthcare and I’m loving every minute of it.
5. As a woman, do you feel safe?
Absolutely. Living in South Africa has taught me to be vigilant and aware, and so it is second nature to me now to feel confident and safe wherever I go.
6. What would you say is the male to female ratio amongst the volunteers?
Initially we attracted more men volunteers, but we are getting more and more women volunteering. Currently there are more female volunteers at the lodge than men.
7. What was the most striking thing you experienced there?
The beauty and tranquillity of the doctor’s refuge, juxtaposed with the harsh conditions of the hospital. This is one of the reasons doctors keep coming back. They know they are doing incredible work in the hospital and making a massive difference in changing people’s lives, and then they can unwind at the end of the day in sheer tranquillity.
8. What is the one thing about this experience you’ll remember forever?
The incredible generosity volunteers have with their time and expertise. It is a wonderful equalizer. All medical volunteers, whether top specialists, nurses, GPs or allied services, have one common goal - to uplift healthcare in these dire conditions.
9. What would you say to doctors, especially women, who are considering a visit?
Come, come, come! You will change lives – including your own. But beware, volunteering at Tshemba is addictive!