Caring for Bonteheuwel’s disabled

The Bonteheuwel Disabled Group has grown from five to 145 members in three years.

The Bonteheuwel Disabled Group celebrated their third anniversary not only with special treats, but also by launching a help desk to expand the services they offer the community.

Founded by David Pillay and supported by Priscilla Jacobs, the two are passionate about making a difference in the lives of people with physical and intellectual disabilities.

They have run the protective workshop and daycare facility at the Bonteheuwel multi-purpose centre for the past three years, without any funding.

The daycare is open to people with intellectual and physical disabilities who are 18 and older.

The project not only cares for the needs of adult disabled people, it also offers much-needed relief to their families, who are often the primary caregivers.

Members of the Bonteheuwel Disabled Group make greeting cards, denim bags from recycled jeans and bath salts; they play games on computers; they do exercises and are also offered physiotherapy, thanks to UCT students.

Mr Pillay said the non-profit organisation was registered in 2014, “out of a deep concern for the difficult social and economic circumstances people with special needs in disadvantaged communities encounter daily”.

He added: “We want to enhance the quality of life for people with special needs and give them the opportunity to develop to their fullest potential.

“We want to promote a spirit of self-reliance – to restore hope and dignity. Many families struggled to place our members in care facilities that can provide basic services in their areas.

“Bonteheuwel is a previously disadvantaged township with a population of more than 65 000 people, and of those, an estimated 2% are living with some sort of a disability. Our data base consists of 145 registered clients with various categories of disabilities. Our daycare facility, runs from Monday to Friday, from 8am to 3pm, and we have 32 attendees daily. This service is offered free-of-charge, and members are served a nutritional lunch as well.”

Despite the lack of funding, Mr Pillay has big dreams for the group, which include acquiring their own site for an operational centre where they can include an assisted-living group home.

“This project is such a blessing to the recipients and their families, and it’s a huge success in the community, and has grown far above our expectations,” Mr Pillay said.