Just Released: The Guardian features Ember Innovator Phola

May 27, 2024

Just Released: The Guardian features Ember Innovator Phola

We are thrilled to share that Ember's former innovator, Phola, has been featured by The Guardian. Read more about Phola’s inspiring journey in the article by Julie Bourdin here.

This recognition underscores the impact and importance of community-led, culturally sensitive approaches to mental health—a testament to Phola’s transformative work in South Africa.

Led by the Ncazelo Ncube-Mlilo, this community-based mental health initiative is dedicated to supporting marginalised communities, including individuals living with HIV and survivors of domestic violence. Their innovative therapeutic methodologies like Tree of Life and COURRAGE are deeply rooted in traditional South African healing practices.

Phola’s work emphasises the need for mental health care that is both contextualised and community-centred. In South Africa, where there is a significant shortage of mental health professionalsfewer than one psychologist for every 100,000 people—and high rates of violence, this approach is essential. Phola’s work moves away from the therapist as the sole expert, locating expertise within communities.

Phola’s journey began with a modest caravan serving as a mobile therapy unit. This innovative approach allowed them to reach underserved communities. Today, they have grown into a robust organisation with a team of 40 dedicated staff members, empowering individuals to reclaim their stories and begin their healing journeys through art, crafting, and collective storytelling

The Guardian’s feature highlights the power of community-led initiatives and the importance of integrating cultural context into mental health care.

Learn more about Phola:

  • Follow Phola's journey on Instagram and X to stay updated and support their mission.
  • Watch this documentary on the power of art and community in healing trauma.