“We are different but, we are able" is echoed in the hearts and minds of every person who is discriminated against because he or she looks different, or thinks differently. Their difference was of no choice of their own, some were born with a mental or physical difference whilst others became this way through illness or accidents. This is not a choice made by individuals but a choice that life has made for them.
Unfortunately, there is very little understanding, patience and support for those facing the daily challenges of a disability. Bethlehem Child and Family Welfare identified a need to offer services to those with disabilities which includes home base care services. Many of those suffering with disabilities were being used by their families for their government grants. Primary caregivers who receive the grants leave their physically and/or mentally disabled family members on their own to fend for themselves in the most shocking of conditions without any care or support. Bethlehem Child and Family Welfare found clients in terrible states of neglect and abuse. It has become obvious that there is very little care, patience, knowledge and support towards those with disabilities. They are discriminated against, teased and ostracized by most of the community. Over and above this shocking discovery, many young girls and women who suffer with a mental disability are sexually abused and traumatised and in many cases left to deal with a pregnancy and ultimately with children they are unable to care for.
Bethlehem Child and Family Welfare offer home base care which includes caring for all the client’s needs in their own homes. They are bathed, dressed and fed. Their surroundings are cleaned and their bedding changed. Should clients need to attend clinics or go to the hospital, they are transported with a carer using the organisation’s vehicles, free of charge. Families are assisted and taught how to care properly for the clients. Support groups have been established and it has become very evident that our clients need to be in a position to socialize with one another on a regular basis. One of the most moving comments has been that to know they too are important, special and loved.
Bethlehem Child and Family Welfare advocate for the protection and rights of people with disabilities through awareness campaigns and inclusive education for children with disabilities; assist in maintaining independent and active living through counseling, life skills, social clubs and the promotion of self-sustainability; empower those with disabilities through employment opportunities, information sessions, material assistance and mobility provision; skills training through the development of social skills, accessibility of the workplace and aftercare for newly placed candidates.
A recent but highly successful programme started by Bethlehem Child and Family Welfare is that of a day care facility for clients with mental and physical disabilities. The clients are collected on a daily basis and taken to Tshepong ya Rona Shelter where they are kept busy with various activities including games and arts and crafts. They are provided with a fully cooked meal at lunch time and taken back home thereafter. The clients are thoroughly enjoying their social time together and they cannot wait to return the following day.
This service also has another extremely positive effect on the clients in that they are learning to have confidence in themselves and now believe in their own self-worth. Over and above this, families are being taught how to care for those with disabilities and the primary caregivers are able to have a break during the mornings when the clients are taken to the day care facility.