This week, local NGO, Border Icons in Sport (BIS), in collaboration with Amitofo Charity Care, provided 50 wheelchairs to vulnerable adults and children.
The wheelchairs were given to identified recipients at a ceremony held at Khanya Youth and Community Development centre in Buffalo Flats.
People living with disabilities are most affected by the lack of basic and suitable infrastructure, which affects their livelihood and limits their opportunities.
Given the shortage of 5,000 wheelchairs across the country last year, BIS decided to alleviate the strain at local level and has provided wheelchairs for Masimanyane Women’s Rights International, the DJ Sobey Old Age Home, Vukuhambe Special School and Khanya Youth Development centre, among other organisations.
The wheelchairs were sourced by Taiwanese human rights organisation, Amitofo Charity Care, that has established orphanages, provides food and assists with education in impoverished African countries.
Amitofo representative Sherry Su-Hei said since the organisation’s founding in 1990, it had aimed to stand in the gap where access to basic services and support for vulnerable people was limited.
So far, the organisation has secured more than 100,000 wheelchairs for people in Africa, with 20,000 distributed in SA.
Su-Hei said: “In the course of our work on the continent we have noticed the overwhelming and unending need for wheelchairs which are tied to the many health challenges experienced in Africa.”
Children’s and adult wheelchairs are provided.
Vukuhame Special School said the donation alleviated the financial and emotional strain on families with children at the school who could not afford wheelchairs.
Moti’et Shofiqur, a little boy from Dikeni (Alice), was born with a mobility disability and has been stuck at home because he did not have a wheelchair.
Through the donation, he will finally receive a wheelchair, after having waited for more than five years for one from the state hospital without success.
His mother, Berenice, said: “Without a wheelchair he was stuck at home and unable to socialise with other children, even the teachers at school are reluctant to allow him to enrol so he has not been able to go to school.
“He was stuck inside the house and couldn’t even feel the sunshine on his face like other children. Without means to get around like other children, I noticed he was beginning to feel ashamed of his body because he could see the difference between himself and other children.
“I have been waiting for years now to get a wheelchair from the government hospital with no success so the only thing I could do was keep him at home.
“Now he will finally feel the same joy of playing with others and learning in school, that all other children experience.”
Rose Matroos, who turned 90 on the day of the handover, had been using a wheelchair that was falling apart, with flat wheel’s and brakes at the back of the chair that she could not reach, making it impossible for her to use it by herself.
The new wheelchairs have higher wheels and lower armrests to enable easy mobility.
DJ Sobey Old Age Home matron, Abigail Oliphant, said: “Whenever we are asked what we want, our number one item on the wishlist is wheelchairs and now that we have a received a few I know we will see a big improvement in operations at the home and the morale of the residents.”