Heideveld group aims to empower disabled people

Ward 44 councillor Anthony Moses, donated a wheelchair to one of the members. With him is Peter Felander.

A new group has formed in Heideveld to empower the disabled and give them a sense of belonging.

Long Walk to Freedom was founded by Clifford Minnaar, who has been in a wheelchair since August last year.

Mr Minnaar, a former police officer, said he felt sidelined and treated differently by the community since rheumatoid arthritis had made him reliant on a wheelchair.

“We want our members to become self-sufficient. Just because we are disabled does not mean we cannot learn skills that can be utilised in the community. I am sure that among our 40 members, there are talented people such as electricians and carpenters,” he said.

Shanaaz Johnson, the deputy chairperson of the organisation, said an initiative like this in Heideveld was much-needed.

“We did not have a facility for disabled people in Heideveld. We are also not only an organisation for wheelchair-bound people. We have stroke survivors, amputees and people with mental health disabilities.

Our aim is to exchange skills, and we also have other activities such as arts and crafts, a book club and we plan to have regular health check days.

We meet twice a week. The meetings are also important, as it gives carers a much-needed break. However, we cannot do this on our own, and we need the ward councillor, churches and other organisations’ support. We are already supporting each other among ourselves, where we make sure that whoever has a hospital appointment, does not have to go there alone,” Ms Johnson said.

Ward 44 councillor Anthony Moses said the group had called on him for help.

“The College of Cape Town offers free courses for next year, and I informed them about it. They did all the logistics themselves, and some members have signed up for it. I would like to see this group develop even further and to be really seen as part of the community, because at times disabled people are sidelined by the community,” he said.

Mr Moses also gave the group toiletry and party packs and donated a wheelchair to one of the members.

The group meets at Mr Minnaar’s house for now, but hopes to find another meeting place soon. Contact Mr Minnaar at 061 396 0908.