Celebrating Buhera’s health champion

16 Feb, 2024 - 00:02 0 Views
Celebrating Buhera’s health champion Mr Ananias Masamha

The ManicaPost


Tendai Gukutikwa
Post Reporter

IN the sun-kissed heart of rural Zimbabwe where the golden savannah stretches as far as the eye can see, a quiet revolution is underway.

A certain village health worker is transforming lives and challenging stereotypes.

As a village health worker in Buhera’s Mbundire Village, a remote village which is approximately 80km from Murambinda, Mr Ananias Masamha is, not only saving lives, but also challenging deeply ingrained beliefs about gender roles.

In the quietude of Buhera, Mr Masamha’s footsteps echo resilience, compassion, and the promise of a healthier future as he moves from one household to the next on a daily basis, bringing access to health services closer to the people.

A man whose journey from the fields to the frontlines has defied societal norms and shattered stereotypes, Mr Masamha’s story begins in the rustling millet fields and dusty footpaths of Buhera.

The Manica Post caught up with him last Saturday, and he shared his experiences in the profession that many believe is reserved for women.

A grandfather to six, the 67-year-old bubbly character was once a police officer before his retirement.

Born in a family of subsistence farmers, he was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps, but Mr Masamha joined the Zimbabwe Republic Police before leaving the charge office to stay at home and enjoy his early retirement.

However, destiny had other plans.

A chance encounter with visiting village health worker recruiters saw his name being nominated by fellow community members.

This opened Mr Masamha’s eyes to a different calling, one that transcended how he had imagined his life.

“Growing up, I had no plans whatsoever of joining village health work. My plans were for an early retirement as a police officer and enjoying the fruits of my work while spending time with my family.

“However, sometime in 2008 a call was made to recruit village health workers and my community members nominated me.

“It opened my eyes because I realised that they had faith that I could do it, I could be trained in village health work and come back and help my community. That touched me because I am a caring person and do not want to see another person in distress or pain. I always wanted to be a nurse before joining the police force,” said Mr Masamha.

Back then, people in Mbundire Village and other surrounding villages did not have a local clinic and had to travel for 20 to 50km to the nearest clinic to access health services.

Most, if not all of them, had to rely on accessing services via village health workers.

“I had to travel to Gwevo Clinic which is about 50km away and then Chapwanya Clinic which is 20km away to feed them with data on community members I was assisting. However, that distance was nothing to me as I love this job.

“I love helping people, which is why my community chose me. They knew that I would never disappoint them and this year marks 16 years of my proud service as a village health worker,” he said with a smile.

Traditionally, most village health workers have been female.


Their perceived nurturing instincts and selflessness have made them the backbone of community health.

But Mr Masamha refused to be confined by gender stereotypes.

With unwavering determination, he embarked on a journey of learning and service.


Armed with a heart full of empathy, he set out to help his community and has not looked back ever since then.

The elderly man said while some men and women doubted his capabilities during his first days as a village health worker, he soldiered on as his goal was to bridge the gap between rural communities and healthcare facilities.

“When I first started, some people from other villages questioned my motives, while others scoffed at the idea of a male village health worker. lt is rare in this country to see a male village health worker, just like male nurses were rare before the new millenium.

“Some thought I was a predator who wanted to take advantage of them, while some thought I was in it for the money, which is not much by the way,” he said.

Mr Masamha persisted.

Today, he covers seven villages with 780 households.

“I walked kilometres under the scorching sun, visiting the 780 households under my catchment area, educating families about hygiene, administering vaccinations, and providing maternal care. Eventually l gained everyone’s trust. I realised that I had finally hit a good mark and they have all come to trust me,” he said.

Mr Masamha said his work as a village health worker has challenged the status quo, forcing people to evaluate their beliefs.

Today, he looks after several orphaned children and widowed women.

According to interviewed community members, his impact is tangible.

When malaria threatened the life of Ms Rumbidzai Mbiri’s child, Mr Masamha administered life-saving medication and everything went back to normal.

Ms Mbiri remains grateful to this.

“With the long distances that we used to travel to the nearby clinic, had it not been for Mr Masamha, my child would have died. I trust him with my life. If any of my children get a cold or fever, we rush to his homestead for assistance,” said Ms Mbiri.

Back in 2020 when the news of the Covid-19 pandemic spread like wildfire, Mr Masamha became the voice of reason, dispelling myths and promoting preventive measures.


Said Ms Spiwe Marowa, another villager: “He would teach us about Covid-19 in WhatsApp groups and because of that, we did not record many cases in our village because we were always alert.

“Yes, it was difficult working with him at first because we had never encountered a male village health villager, but as we got to know him, we realised that he was dedicated to his duties. We are so grateful that he never tires when it comes to his job.”

The villagers said even as another village health worker, Ms Priscilla Nyamande, helped a young woman during a home delivery, Mr Masamha’s calm voice guided the patient through her pain.


Said Ms Nyamande: “Mr Masamha and l work together very well. He has vulnerable groups at his heart and makes sure that he visits them regularly. Another group that he has a soft spot for are pregnant mothers, he loves maternal health issues.”

“I am passionate about reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, and I also advocate for the rights and needs of women in his area,” said Mr Masamha.

The Mbundire community now looks up to Mr Masamha as more than a village health worker.


To them, he is a beacon of hope, a symbol that gender stereotypes can be broken.


Those who once scoffed at him now seek his advice on health issues.

Children, wide-eyed and curious, see in him a role model who defied all odds to ensure access to health services in the community.


As the sun sets over the rolling hills of Buhera, Mr Masamha stands tall and always ready to dash to those who need his services.


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