People with disabilities and their caregivers already face an array of daily challenges, and COVID-19 has rendered them extra vulnerable to various health risks. To tackle a lack of inclusion and accessibility for those living with disabilities, the Rotary Club of Hibiscus Coast and the Ugu Health District came together to organize a Rotary Family Health Day (RFHD) at the Ikhayalethu Home of Love and Care on November 23.
Site champions DGE Gavin Jepson and Anne Thompson organised the program with the support from Bonginkosi Khowane, Deputy Director, Clinical and Programs, Ugu Health District.
“Disability inclusion is possible and with this idea, our Club — with the Department of Health — decided to bring the Family Health Day program to the center. We also set up a separate space in the parking lot of the Ikhayalethu Center for people living in the nearby areas,” said Wilma Lig, Public Image Director, Rotary Club of Hibiscus Coast. “Everyone on the premises was vaccinated, from children with disabilities, caregivers and administration staff to the security personnel and gardeners.”
“COVID-19 has affected everyone. but it has been worse for people with disabilities,” said Nonzwakazi Maphitshi, UGU Health District Manager for Disability & Rehabilitation. “They are dependent on someone to help them go to a medical centre. Another problem is the financial constraint; hiring a car to go to a hospital is something they cannot afford. Hence, we hope to extend our help to more such vulnerable populations in the near future.”
A lack of accessible and inclusive services has only made these people more vulnerable during the pandemic. “The Department of Health visits us once or twice a month. When a kid falls sick, we have to take them to the clinic using our own transport. The nearest clinic is around two kilometers away from our centre, and transport is one of the major challenges we face here,” said Reggie Ntsebesha, center manager.
The Club also offered a range of additional services at the Health Day, including eye testing, deworming, vitamin A supplements for children and family planning counseling. The Rotary Club of Hibiscus Coast donated 150 reading glasses to the Department of Health; 20 reading glasses were donated to Ikhayalethu Home; and 30 people from the local community areas were tested and prescribed glasses by Optometrist Sidney Shingange. Rotarians Dubretha Oosthuizen, Doug Kent, Mike McCray and President Brian Blumrick helped with the program management at the site.
“It was a mixed feeling of hopelessness and being hopeful at the same time,” said Wilma. “Seeing the kids at the center was heart-breaking, but the love and support of their caregivers was just beautiful. Being a Rotarian, I felt a sense of purpose. A small amount of help from our Club and the Department of Health could bring such a difference to someone’s life. It was a successful initiative, and we hope to be back here with more health services soon.”
With its unique public-private partnership program (RFHD), Rotary Action Group for Family Health and AIDS Prevention (RFHA), is helping with both provision of vaccinations and an awareness drive.
During difficult times, it’s more important than ever to do more for those who need it. If you feel inspired to play your part in building a more inclusive world, get in touch today!Share