Persons with disabilities, especially from impoverished communities, need to cope with everyday struggles related to a lack of equity and equal rights. The inequalities of modern day society as experienced by persons with disabilities around the globe, are now even more evident as a result of COVID-19, severely impacting on the dignity and livelihood of persons with disabilities.
The challenge of addressing poverty and inequality through social work services lies beyond the level of the provision of handouts of basic assistance. Breede Valley APD has to find creative ways in which to render developmental social services that are relevant to the personal needs experienced by persons with disabilities.
In 2019, the Breede Valley APD Developmental Social Service Model was designed to address these challenges in a creative but realistic way on community level to ensure positive change and results.
By focusing on person centered assessments and development – a way of helping people who want to make changes in their lives – and engaging and cooperating with our beneficiaries, communities, stakeholders and partners, we render a range of services to adults-, children- and families experiencing physical, intellectual and mental disabilities, blindness and deafness.
The need for programs to attend to the needs of persons with disabilities living in their communities with their families, especially after discharge from hospital or crisis intervention, will be an ongoing need, especially with a lack of resources and infra-structure in our poverty stricken communities. This group of people and their families need to be supported, empowered and their skills need to be developed in order for them to become as independent and mainstreamed into society as efficiently as possible. They often have very few or no support systems to help them in making the correct choices in terms of health, rehabilitation, social values and integration into their respective communities in general, etc.
Through the Family Preservation Program, Breede Valley APD is mobilising and empowering volunteers associated with the organisation to provide managed support and services to persons and families with disabilities within their families and communities on a long- and/or short term bases, enabling persons and families with disabilities to reach an independent and optimal lifestyle.
In September 2020, one of our longstanding partners, the Kinderfonds MAMAS, availed crucial emergency funding for sustainable food security. As partners in service delivery to the vulnerable, we realised that food parcels are not sustainable and it creates dependence and a culture of entitlement in our communities. On the other hand, home gardens provide long term sustainable food security and also contributes to empowering families.
After taking on the challenge of establishing food gardens with no existing gardens and no former experience, we were surprised at the possibilities and opportunities food gardens can provide. Although we have expereinced many challenges (lack of land/space, lack of interest from beneficieries, damages due to heat/pets/pests, lack of guidance) we were very surprised with especially the establishment of the centre based gardens – even on small pieces of land! It took a while for these gardens to really show promise, but they are now an integral part of the the feeding schemes at each of the participating special care centres. With the more established centre based gardens we are now in the favourable position to include gardening activities in our daily stimulation programme to encourage the cildren with disabilities to partake and learn in the process.
ADOPT A FAMILY
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Breede Valley APD realised that more and more persons with disabilities and their families in our communities are severely affected by poverty and that the handing out of food parcels is not effective in addressing these needs. These vulnerable persons and their families need to be empowered in different and creative ways to be able to change their lives. Through the Adopt a Family initiative, 20 families in Rawsonville, Zwelethemba, De Doorns, Touws River and Worcester are identified and screened by the social workers for participating in the project.
Many people in our communities want to reach out and help, but they don’t know how. By “adopting” one of the 20 vulnerable families, they can share knowledge, resources and time in any manner that they feel comfortable with – in the process positively impacting and enriching the lives of persons with disabilities and their families.
CVA SUPPORT GROUP
The SVO Support Group at Breede Valley APD started as a project of the final year physiotherapy students studying at the UKWANDA Rural Health Centre as part of their clinical rotation block. Whilst working in the field, the students noticed that there was a large population of people that were presenting with acute strokes that occurred during the national lockdown. They realised that there was an increased need for rehabilitation and with the assistance of the Breede Valley APD Social Worker, they brought to life the stroke support group.
The support group meets once weekly at Breede Valley APD on Wednesday mornings and is a group class for people who have previously suffered from a stroke. These group classes consist of a variety of education and exercise classes. The aim of the group class is to provide members of the community with a support system to hopefully enable them to overcome the many obstacles that they are faced with. With further investment from the Breede Valley APD Volunteers and Caregivers, we hope to make this group sustainable and enable stroke survivors to reach an optimal lifestyle.
The Rolling Inspirations is a support group for persons with disabilities and their caregivers that meet once a week on a Friday at Breede Valley APD. During these meeting, they discuss, address and advocate for safe, reliable and affordable access to information, public services, nutrition, psycho social services, education, training, employment and basic health care.
The decline in accessible services to persons with disabilities is not part of the COVID-19 effect. It is a result of the ignorance and reluctance of modern day society to acknowledge and understand the difficulties persons with disabilities face on a daily basis due to exclusion.