Medico International – Usche Merk

Tribute to Oupa Lehulere (1960 – 2021)

We are mourning the loss of Oupa Lehulere, Director of Khanya College, who passed away on 28 November 2021 at the age of 61 years. Since 2014 we have been collaborating with him in a network of NGOs, who are supporting the self-organising process of Community Health Workers. With his decades of experience in social movement building, Oupa was the centre of advice and challenge in the network. His wisdom about the “messiness” of movement building, about strategies of organising, understanding of dangers and destructive dynamics in the growth of movements, about tactics of the state to undermine movements but also issues around weaknesses of NGOs who are not rooted in communities and the limitations of donor funding was a source of constant reflection and learning for all of us. Over the years we could see that the way he was mentoring the development of the Gauteng Community Health Workers Forum was real popular education in the Freirian way – in the end it were the Community Health Workers of the Gauteng Forum themselves who won the struggle to be employed permanent workers into the health system.

We are very sad about the loss of Oupa who was not only a very experienced organiser, educator and political strategist but a dear colleague and special human being with humour, integrity and a warm heart. We all have our special memories of him and will miss him strongly in our next phase of work. Our thoughts are with Maria and his daughter Searatoa and the whole Khanya community.

With much gratitude and care from medico international, Peoples Health Movement (PHM-SA), SINANI and the partners of the Community Health Care Workers Networking Project.

Usche Merk

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