Inclusive, Enabling Communities

Inclusive, Enabling Communities
Learning Brief

Nkosinathi Foundation of & for Blind & Partially Sighted People

Expanding our rural service by establishing satellite offices

Category: Inclusive, Enabling Communities | People with disabilities | 2 March, 2013 - 07:27


Nkosinathi Foundation facilitates a Rural Outreach Programme, in which community members are recruited, trained and employed by the Foundation as Field Workers. The Field Workers lives and works in their respective communities. In order to deal with the back-log of blind and partially sighted people needing rehabilitation and related support services, we have been implementing the following strategy: Train and employ sufficient Field Workers (in each geographic area) to catch up the back-log. Once the backlog is diminished the number of Field Workers is reduced (according to the need and size of the region).  Finally a Satellite office is established with one Field Worker left to serve the needs of the remaining current and future recipients of services. Through this process our first satellite office was established recently.

Our lessons learned

The Satellite office is useful because it creates more awareness of our service; it creates storage and meeting space and privacy for any blind people who want to be seen outside of their homes because of lack of privacy in their homes.

Two problems emerged though:

  • The field worker working in the area of the satellite office was automatically selected to ‘man’ the office. This however makes the success of the satellite office dependent on retaining the services of that Field Worker.  We have since decided to add another fieldworker, making us less dependent on retaining the services of one specific field worker.
  • Although the point chosen for the satellite office was central (geographically) in the region, it remained more accessible to some than others.  Some community members started thinking that the area with the satellite office is the “favoured” area.  We have since moved the office again to be more accessible to the majority of people it serve.

If we do this again:

  • In establishing a satellite office it should preferably be negotiated to share space with existing Municipal Clinics (or another permanent service) and negotiations should include the use of office furniture thereby eliminating the need to purchase and or move furniture.
  • This satellite office should (if possible), be “rotated” within the region preferably every two years but no less than every three years.
  • The geographic area supported by this satellite office should be large enough to support the services of at least two Field Workers (after the back log has been caught up), thereby ensuring that we are not too dependent on retaining the services of one Field Worker. However, at this stage it is not clear whether this problem can be totally avoided. It is possible that the only way to maintain satellite offices might be to continue to recruit and train community members to take the place of (post back log) Field Workers who leave the Foundation’s employ.


Nkosinathi Foundation of & for Blind & Partially Sighted People

58B Kirkwood Street, Port Elizabeth, Eastern Cape  

 (041) 487 1150

In Short

In this one-page-pitch the Nkosinathi Foundation of and for Blind and Partially Sighted People describes how they have been taking on the difficult task of expanding their rural service by establishing satellite offices. Expansion is a challenge that many organisations struggle with, and in this pitch the Nkosinathi Foundation provide some useful pointers that could help others. 

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