Compassion and commitment to providing uncompromised care for the elderly is core to the work ethos that has propelled visionary, Femada Shamam to the helm of Durban welfare organisation, Tafta (The Association of the Aged).
This Women’s month, Tafta celebrates its newly-appointed CEO who remains committed to providing the best quality of life for Durban’s senior citizens and driving the continued growth and success of the organisation.
Shamam, took on the role to lead Durban-based non-profit organisation in April this year following the semi-retirement of longstanding CEO, Margie Smith.
“My guiding belief has always been that a better life for the elderly is possible. I invite all, elders, staff, partners and the community at large to join me as we journey this road. Together we can achieve great things,” said Shamam.
Through her passion improving the lives of the elderly, who are often society’s most neglected; Shamam has found her niche in a field that holds personal meaning and fulfilment.
Shamam began her career in 2000 as a young social worker- a role which she believed would pave the way towards realising her dream of working in the commercial sector.
But Shamam was so moved by her initial encounters working with the elderly that her commitment to the field of aged-care was affirmed.
“As I started my work as a home social worker and service centre organiser, I was both inspired and terrified by the enormity of the need of the elders.”
“I realised there was so much that could be done to make their lives better. It was here that the seed of my passion for working in this field was sowed,” she said.
An advocate for maintaining the basic rights of the elderly, Shamam worked closely with local communities ensuring suitable care and services for Durban’s elderly.
In 2003, Shamam’s compassion, dedication and vision, propelled her to the helm of Tafta’s social agency and team of social workers.
“The transition from working directly with the elders to managing the staff and the programme presented an opportunity to effect change in a different way. My inspiration was drawn by the successes of the staff whom I led. Their joys, their achievements and their successes spurred me on to be better and do better,” she said.
Shamam later graduated with a degree in Commerce (BComm), which paired with her social work training, provided a well-balanced foundation to understand the needs of the elderly and respond with sustainable models of care.
She has since assumed various management roles within the organisation until she was appointed Chief Operations Officer in 2016.
In this role, Shamam was mandated to research and develop and implement models for efficient and sustainable service delivery.
“My task was to lead the operations division in a new direction consistent with the vision of Tafta’s 2020 strategy. As a team we believed that a better life for our elders was possible and my challenge was to ensure that we delivered on this,” she explained.
But she added that the challenges of the demanding role were met with the fulfillment of adding value to the lives of older people.
Shamam, who has dedicated 17 years to the organisation, has served on several local and provincial forums dedicated to lobbying for rights of the elderly
She attributes her success to hard work, passion, innovation and the support of great mentors.
“My years at Tafta, educational qualifications and the opportunity to attend national and international conferences have equipped with me a wide range of skills and knowledge to add value to this organisation and to the lives of the elderly,” she said.