Safe haven and creative outlet for the disabled

HAZEL ALLIES-HUSSELMAN

A protective workshop and daycare facility in Bonteheuwel not only cares for the needs of adult disabled people, but this service also offers much-needed relief to their families, who are often the primary caregivers.

The Bonteheuwel Disabled Group (BDG) is a registered non-profit organisation, that opened its daycare facility at the Bonteheuwel Multi-purpose Centre in January.

Founder members, chairperson Priscilla Jacobs and treasurer David Pillay, who both have a physical disability, said they were encouraged to start a programme like this, because there was no facility like this available in the community.

The daycare is open to people with intellectual and physical disabilities, from 18 years and older.

The group started with five members in January, and has since grown to 20 members. Mr Pillay, who is the daycare project co-ordinator, said another 20 people would like to join the daycare facility, but transport between Netreg and Bonteheuwel is a challenge for them.

Mr Pillay said a survey they concluded in the area, highlighted the need for a protective workshop like this. While a programme like this might be available in other areas, it often comes at a cost, and many of their members cannot afford to pay.

“Many disabled people in our community end up at home – doing nothing – after they have completed their schooling. There is a great need for this facility, as it seems like there’s just no life for them. We also saw how parents were struggling to cope, and some of them have jobs, but after their children turn 18, there is no daycare programme for them,” Mr Pillay said.

He explained that he had been working for 30 years, before he became disabled 10 years ago. After living in Durban for seven years, Mr Pillay moved back to Cape Town and wanted to get involved with, or start a group like this. He later met Ms Jacobs, and after five months of planning, the daycare was opened.

The members of the BDG make greeting cards, denim bags from recycled jeans, beaded jewellery, they play games on computers, do exercises and are also offered physiotherapy, thanks to students from the University of Cape Town (UCT).

Home-based carers also regularly take the members’ blood pressure and blood sugar levels, and when these levels are a concern, they share this information with the families. The group meets from Mondays to Thursdays, and members receive breakfast and lunch.

Ms Jacobs said their biggest challenge is funding and transport. They do receive a few donations, but at the moment, it is not enough to ensure sustainability. It is for this reason that they are selling their beadwork, denim bags and other arts and crafts, to raise funds.

Said Mr Pillay: “My dream is to take this project to other previously disadvantaged areas, and to equip people who are living with a disability, to manage the same project in their own communities.”

He thanked Rusheen February, the centre manager of the Bonteheuwel Multi-purpose Centre, Sub-council 5 chairperson Rosemary Rau, Ward 50 councillor Theresa Thompson, Nolitha, Check Out in Bonteheuwel, the Cullinan Hotel, the home-based carers, UCT students the Community Work Programme (CWP) for all their assistance with the project.

If you would like to assist the organisation in any way, contact Mr Pillay at bondisabledgroup@gmail. com, or daveed.pillay@gmail.com, or call 021 695 5425 or 084 573 8928 or its Facebook page: Bonteheuweldisabledgroup