Every little bit helps …

Wheelchair, poverty

In South Africa, most children with a disability live at or below the national poverty line. This double jeopardy – being poor and having a disability – often spirals families into a cycle of compounded marginalisation. Living in poverty is extremely difficult and restricts access to everything, from housing and travel to food, healthcare and education.

For those with a disability, these challenges are further complicated with additional marginalisation and exclusion from many opportunities, services and facilities. For example, a child who needs a wheelchair also requires access to customised toilets and showers.

However, children with a disability living in poverty often do not even have basic ablution facilities in their homes. Trying to use any type of public transport is an ongoing struggle, whereas taxis are reluctant to assist as additional time is required to help them get in and out – not to mention to extra charges.

“It costs families or caregivers money to travel to rehabilitation sessions, whereas those in rural communities can see occupational or physiotherapists in clinics only once a month if they are lucky,” says André Kalis, specialist in advocacy, policy and children’s matters at the National Council of and for Persons with Disabilities (NCPD).

“These children often do not have access to mainstream day-care facilities or schools, relying on community-based and volunteer-driven day-care centres with limited resources. Excluded from a chance at receiving a good education, these children will continue to be marginalised as the poorest and most exposed in society,” he adds.

While addressing this cycle of poverty and marginalisation will require commitment and investment from government, the NCPD is doing its small part in helping these children. A simple item can make all the difference in the bathroom habits of children with disabilities.

Nappies are a necessity for many children with a disability. However, the cost is often too high for their families, caregivers or centres. The annual Nappy Run campaign helps to assist in providing nappies to families by educating the public and appealing for donations. The campaign runs from October 3 to December 3, with the annual Nappy Run five-kilometre fun run as the highlight.

People are encouraged to join the Nappy Run by running, walking or wheeling five kilometres at the Johannesburg Zoo on Saturday, November 2. “Supporting initiatives such as the Nappy Run shows a much-needed solidarity with children with disabilities and the problems they continually face,” Kalis says.

“Contributing to the cause in any small way will go a long way in the effort required to break the cycle of compounded marginalisation of being poor and having disabilities,” he concludes.

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