A new wheelchair has opened doors for Zethu Soya from Wells Estate in Port Elizabeth. Employed as a seamstress at the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities (APD), Soya spoke of her gratitude at receiving a wheelchair through the annual Spar Wheelchair Wednesday campaign.
Born with polio, Soya was able to walk for the first time when she was five but had to rely on crutches. Everything changed in 2013, when she received a wheelchair, she says. “Previously, I could not go to all the shops in the Greenacres Mall, for example, as the distance between some of the stores was just too far for me to manage.
“I used to have to sit in one place and ask people to get me things from certain shops. Now I have someone to push me and it is so much easier for me to get around.” She adds that it has helped in many other aspects of her life too, such as attending church and getting to the local clinic.
“Although I have crutches, I can’t manage long distances, so having a wheelchair has made such a difference to my life. The Wheelchair Wednesday campaign and the work the APD is doing are so important,” Soya says.
She points out that there are thousands of people with mobility challenges. “For instance, my friend has lost a leg and can’t go anywhere. People like her need this kind of support to improve their life a little. Receiving a wheelchair has changed my life.”
The Wheelchair Wednesday campaign runs in August each year and is managed by the APD Nelson Mandela Bay and supported by Spar Eastern Cape. It creates awareness around the challenges faced by people with mobility impairments while raising funds to donate wheelchairs to those in need. This year, the organisers aim to donate 1 000 wheelchairs.
Every Wednesday, during the month of August, volunteers from businesses, the municipality and schools spend four hours in a wheelchair to get a small taste of the difficulties faced by wheelchair users every day. This also raises awareness of the need for businesses in the metro and beyond to ensure their facilities provide easy access for those who are in wheelchairs.