A group of people with disabilities and their allies say they want more opportunities.
Disabled community activist Sulyman Stellenboom said the group that includes abled and disabled bodies want more opportunities, especially in job creation, (“Move to mobilise disabled community“, Plainsman November 23, 2022).
Mr Stellenboom has had many challenges with his disability, having suffered a broken pelvis, broken collarbone, and broken ankle in a motorbike accident in 2013.
He shared that it is not easy to go about your day in spaces that may not be disabled-friendly.
“My disability is not visible as it cannot be seen. I have to find ways to make people understand my situation when I am at the mall, a hospital, to mention a few places. We are here to share information so that it can help others who face a similar challenge,” he said.
This group has applied to form a Mitchell’s Plain branch under the Disabled People South Africa (DPSA). They brought forms to the meeting on Friday February 10 at the Town Centre library, so that they can apply to DPSA for assistance with disabled care.
There is a lot of interest for people to attend these meetings, however, transport is an issue. They will seek assistance from the taxi federation to assist with this, said Mr Stellenboom.
Allan Brown, a disabled person who was at the meeting, said it is a challenge with the services that are available to them.
“This space can help not just us but other people too. I am grateful for this opportunity.”
Mr Stellenboom said they will elect their executive board on Saturday March 4 at 10am at Town Centre library.
“I can’t do this alone, we need each other. We must establish our branch. This is our first meeting for the year. We will fight for people with disabilities. To do this we can’t do it on our own,” said Mr Stellenboom.
Through the Mitchell’s Plain DPSA branch they will create job opportunities through networking with each other and exploring opportunities in the printing sector. They want to sell bumper stickers and create T-shirts designs. They will do the printing.
“We don’t want money, we want opportunities and work. We may be disabled but we can’t depend on the money the government gives us. ‘Nothing about us without us’. We must fight for ourselves,” said Mr Stellenboom.
Nizaar Hendricks, a member of the group who has expertise in apparel and signage printing, said: “We can do everything. Everything you see with your eyes we can do. You don’t need to worry about money because jobs can create this. While your mind is right, you can do it!
“I was a vegetable and it was difficult because I couldn’t work and we had to adjust to those challenges.
“We can do this. We can do this together. The grant is a bonus but we must create those jobs for us.”
Teresita Bardien, who works with people in need of care, was part of the discussion. She said a lot of people need so much and some don’t care as much as they need to.
Disabled activist Randall Wynkwartd raises awareness about the rights of the disabled and educates disabled people who make use of restaurants or shopping centres, among other amenities, on their rights within these spaces.
“We must give to others. We may feel hopeless but people can join us. There is hope where there’s a will, there’s a way with your situation. Let’s continue to advocate for people with disabilities to be part of society,” said Mr Wynkwartd.
The group will be in partnership with the Kilimanjaro Seniors’ Club, said club founder, Beatrice Leng. They will work together to help disabled people and all those affected by it.
Joanne Muller, from the Mitchell’s Plain Advice Office, a human rights NGO based in the Town Centre, said they will also be partnering with this group.
“We came to support them and engage with them. Gadija Satarien, helps with learnerships, curriculum vitae assistance and Johnathan Jonkers, the substance abuse co-ordinator, works with schools and challenged children. People don’t always know what is available and therefore we help them in this regard,” said Ms Muller.
For more information on this disabled group, contact Mr Stellenboom on 078 333 3072; for more information on the Mitchell’s Plain Advice Office, call 021 392 2000 or email them on firstname.lastname@example.org or follow them online.