Much Awaited Wheelchair Handover in Hlabisa by Operation Jumpstart Association

Durban: Imagine trying to navigate the world without proper tools to support your mobility. It is hard enough for able bodied people, but for people with disabilities and their families, it is an almost impossible task.

On the 7th of November (Disability month in South Africa) a team from Operation Jumpstart Association (OJA) travelled to Hlabisa in Northern KwaZulu-Natal to the Sikhonzi Edna Gazu Community Learning Centre to hand over 17 wheelchairs.

The wheelchair handover was the culmination of a process that started in June 2022, when Ms. Cele Nomkhosi from Shalom 1, responded to a public call in Isolezwe for applications for wheelchairs.

Ms. June MacIntyre  who is an occupational therapist by profession and a wheelchair Coordinator  of OJA  and Ms. Sayinile Zungu, CEO travelled up to Hlabisa in August 2022 to meet with the potential wheelchair recipients and measure them for their new wheelchairs.

Wheelchairs Offer Freedom

Wheelchairs offer the freedom to move around as desired, whether independently or with the assistance of a caregiver. They allow for a more active and comfortable lifestyle, enabling individuals to participate in daily activities with ease. Most people don’t know that wheelchairs need to be fitted, customized to each individual as per their disability needs. A crucial part of the wheelchair handover process, is the measuring and fitting, because of the importance of a proper wheelchair fit and the impact it can have on an individual’s quality of life.

Wheelchairs can help prevent injuries related to balance and instability, particularly for those at risk of falls. The proper fitting can also prevent medical issues such as pressure wounds and blood clots.

Meeting in Hlabisa

On Tuesday morning, with a heavy sky and rainclouds blowing in, about 70 people gathered at Shalom 1 where they were welcomed by the Shalom1 founder Mrs SE Gazu, who set up the first projects for the disabled community in the district, on this land.

Blessings from God

Ms. Sayinile Zungu, CEO of Operation Jumpstart is a child of this soil, who was born and grew up in the area. She explained the wheelchair application process to the community and laid out the fact that it had taken longer than expected.

In her address, she quoted 2 Samuel 9 and told the story of David and Mephibosheth, a son of Jonathan who “is lame in his feet” in other words disabled.

What is the Main message in 2 Samuel 9?

We should look for the poor, weak, lame, and hidden to bless them. We should bless others when they don’t deserve it, and bless them more than they deserve. We should bless others  because  God blesses us with resources to be a blessing to others. We must show the kindness of God to others. We as Non-Governmental organizations and government are stewards of the resources God has entrusted us with for the sake of His people who are needy, so we should be compassionate, humble, have integrity and accountable for every cent that comes into our hands.

Custom Wheelchairs

During the morning event, which was interrupted by a heavy thunder storm, Ms. Cele Nomkhosi of Shalom 1 acted as a professional and efficient program director and soon the assembled guests, families and recipients were all outside unpacking the custom wheelchairs from the big brown cardboard boxes; opening them and adjusting them for their new owners.

Mr Mfaniseni Mahlalela Mkhanyakude District Disability Forum Chairperson thanked OJA for remembering people with disabilities who are often not cared for and hidden by their families. He pleaded with ward councilors to support initiatives by people with disabilities

Mr. Kanyisani Majozi, thanked OJA and the organizers on behalf of the wheelchair recipients and explained how much the new wheelchairs will improve the lives of the recipients and those who care for them..

Messages, greetings, and thanks were also said by Councillor Mr. Maphisa from Ward 12 in person and by Izinduna Jabu MaHlabisa Hlabisa Mathe and Mr Mthembu.