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Thursday 5th December is International Volunteer Day, with the theme of 2019 being Volunteer for an Inclusive Future. QAWC is an Association which has been built and continues to be sustained by the contribution of volunteers. Through funds generously received by the Australian Volunteers Program, QAWC was able to host an event to recognise our past and present volunteers and celebrate the contributions made by these individuals.
A short event ceremony was held and MC’d by our Vice Chairperson Casper Erasmus. Casper spoke of the importance of volunteering and how it is essential to ensuring an inclusive future for all persons with disabilities. Zara Talmarkes then spoke on the value volunteers had added to the Work Readiness Programme and reflected on her journey to permanent employment. Anthony Ghillino reflected on the contribution of volunteers past and present and Glenn Millen, QAWC Chairperson, spoke about the continued value of QAWC’s Board Members who are all volunteers. Lowri Williams, our Australian Volunteer then had the opportunity to speak about her time as a volunteer and thank the QAWC Staff and Board for the collaborative work which has been achieved over the past two years.
The event ended with a spit braai lunch from the Spit Braai King. The day was well enjoyed by all, and was an excellent opportunity to recognise the contribution of so many individuals who through their positive contribution to QAWC have impacted the lives of so many of our Members.
We would like to thank our volunteers who were present on the day: Danny and Alta Retief, Kirsten Broadbent, Cookoo Moodley, Lowri Williams and past and present Members of the QAWC Board. Additionally, three Australian Volunteers from the Australian Volunteers Program James Hamlet, Julien Tran and Ashly Hope were also present and we recognise the positive contribution these volunteers are making towards the economic and social development in South Africa.
Both QAWC and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) are aware of the vital role played by caregivers in the lives of wheelchair users on a daily basis. RAF decided to take the opportunity to show their appreciation to some of the caregivers of their claimants at an event organised and hosted by QAWC at the beautiful Klein Joostenberg. There was a serious aspect to the day as well, with Dr Erasmus, a specialist in spinal cord injuries, addressing those present about pressure sores and Anthony Ghillino, QAWC’s General Manager, presenting on what makes a good caregiver/patient relationship. All present were treated to a delicious lunch, a motivational speech and entertainment by a live band before awards were handed out to specially chosen caregivers in recognition of their outstanding service. A goodie bag full of special gifts and treats were given to all, with the caregivers going home fully aware of just how appreciated they are for the awesome work that they do.
DSD Somerset West drop off Bread Tags for Wheelchairs
On 3 December, International Day of Persons with Disabilities, representatives from the Somerset West Department of Social Development office visited QAWC to hand over the bread tags that they had been collecting since 6 September. The Somerset West DSD office made contact with their partners in their community and encouraged them participating in this initiative by collecting bread tags. There was obviously tremendous support within the community as the QAWC team were overwhelmed by the huge amount of bread tags that were delivered to us. These bread tags will be taken to the official Bread Tags for Wheelchairs premises where they be recycled, with the funds raised by recycling the bread tags going towards purchasing wheelchairs for people in need in our community. We are so proud of the awesome work done by DSD Somerset West, Thank You!
Thanks to our driving ambitions rural project, we are making dreams come true. Not too long-ago Carlo Klink passed his driver’s licence test. After 4 unsuccessful attempts, Carlo succeeded at his 5th attempt, securing his driver’s licence. Carlo has proven that with perseverance and a positive attitude the possibilities of what one can achieve our endless. Being able to drive is a dream come true and having a license is the cherry on top. Carlo hopes to motivate other wheelchair users in turning their dreams into reality. These days Carlo is out and about enjoying his independence. We wish Carlo a wonderful end to 2019, and all the best in 2020.
The Work Readiness Program
As we reach the end of 2019, we reflect on our flagship project the QASA Work Readiness Program. The QASA and QAWC vision is that all quadriplegics and paraplegics will live their lives to their full potential and assisting members to find employment is just one of the ways to achieve this. Finding gainful employment is probably the most effective way to change one’s life. Since the project launched in April, we had 22 candidates partaking over a course of 4 intakes. Twelve of those candidates have been employed, one started his own business, and three others are furthering their studies. QAWC are relentless in the pursuit of finding permanent employment for our remaining candidates and are building numerous networks with companies to achieve this. Realistically it may be “impossible” to find employment for each and every candidate, but the word “impossible” is not in our vocabulary. The above statistics shows how successful the Work Readiness Program is. 2020 here we come!!
Farewell and Bon Voyage Lowri
In October 2017 the QAWC team was joined by Lowri Williams, a young Australian lady who volunteered at QAWC through the Australian Volunteer Program. Lowri’s initial assignment was for a year, however everything worked so well that both parties grabbed the opportunity to extend her deployment at QAWC for an additional year. Over the last 2 years Lowri has become an integral part of the QAWC team and Lowri’s contribution and impact has been far larger than anyone could ever have imagined or hoped for. Lowri has a positive attitude that is infectious and has tackled all her tasks over the last 2 years with professionalism and enthusiasm, always giving 110% in an attempt to do what is best for QAWC’s members. Lowri can look back on her achievements with real pride. These include redrafting the QAWC constitution, launching the Work Readiness Program, managing The Buckle Up Rural & Driving Ambitions Rural programs, managing social media and much much more. Lowri was always eager to assist and proved to be extremely popular with QAWC members, staff and the Board. Lowri leaves us on 19 December to continue with her career in Australia. To say that she will be missed is an understatement, the void that she leaves behind is big, but her legacy at QAWC is even bigger. We all wish Lowri everything of the best for her future endeavours, we know that with her spirit, work ethic, determination, professionalism and character she will be a massive success wherever she goes. Lowri, Baie Dankie, we will miss you, please stay in touch.
Farewell from Lowri
I would like to take this opportunity to thank QAWC for hosting me as a volunteer for the last two years. Working in South Africa has been even more incredible than I imagined it to be and I have had the opportunity to work with some very special people.
I would like to say a big thank you to each Board member who has served over the last two years, to the QASA team and management and of course to the wonderful QAWC staff Esme, Anthony, Charmaine, Edward, Nazeem, Chad and ex colleagues Anda and Babalo. It has been a privilege and an honour to work alongside you all. Our Members can feel confident that they have all the support they need from this excellent team in the Western Cape who will go above and beyond to ensure that Quadriplegics and Paraplegics live their lives to their fullest.
Finally, I would like to say a big thank you to each and every Member that I have had the pleasure of meeting. I have been lucky enough to travel far and wide in the Western Cape and South Africa- and blessed to meet so many friendly people along the way. Each Member I have met- whether it be through the Work Readiness Programme, Buckle Up, Driving Ambitions, VoQoL, my visits to the George OCC, or at another event has inspired me to keep working hard for QAWC because our Members have so much potential!
Being a wheelchair user is a unique attribute which when given the right opportunities becomes an incredibly powerful asset! Never forget that. Wishing everyone of our Members a wonderful end to 2019, and all the best in 2020. Farewell to you all and thank you again for all the joy you have brought to my life.
Seasons Greetings & Office Closure
The QAWC Board & Staff would like to take this opportunity to wish all our members everything of the very best over the festive season as well as a happy and healthy 2020. The QAWC office will be closing on 20 December 2019 so that our staff members can enjoy a well deserved and much-needed break. The office will reopen on the 13 January 2020 when we will once again strive to improve the lives of you, the QAWC members.
If you would like to download a Pdf of the above Newsletter, please click on the link below:
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The Driving Ambitions Rural project allows persons with mobility impairments who reside outside of Cape Town to participate in the Driving Ambitions project. Through funding generously provided by the Australian High Commission in South Africa, once accepted onto the driving ambitions project candidates are able to stay for 14 nights at Huis Andries Olivier and receive a contribution towards their transport budget whilst learning how to drive. Do you have your learner’s license or do you have a license which you must change to category B3 (Physically Disabled)? Contact Lowri today for more information on 021 975 6078 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bonga Rati- Our First Success Story
The Driving Ambitions Rural project now has its first success story! Bonga Rati, originally from the Eastern Cape, now lives in Langebaan and works for the Military in the Human Resources Department. On 19th June 2016, Bonga was involved in car accident which left him as a C6/C7 complete Quadriplegic. He completed his rehabilitation at the Military hospital, and returned to work after months of rehabilitation with limited function in his arms. Despite returning to work, Bonga relied on his family for transport and wished to be independent in transporting himself like he had prior to his accident. Bonga applied to the Driving Ambitions Rural programme, came to the Durbanville Quadriplegic Centre on Sunday 14th July and passed his test on Thursday 25th July. In Bonga’s own words “The reasons why I need a license … it will improve the quality of my personal life, and it could be beneficial for the Military also in attending courses, being on time for work in rain and windy conditions”. With his new found independence, Bonga’s goal is to “install hand controls in my car, further my studies, buy a house for my family and invest in business”. Do you want to be our next Driving Ambitions Rural success story? Contact Lowri at email@example.com today to apply!!
Introducing our Programme Assistant Nazeem Khan
QAWC now has a Program Assistant! Nazeem Khan, one of the Work Readiness Programme graduates from Intake 2 started with QAWC at the beginning of September and will be on an internship through the HW SETA for 12 months. Nazeem brings a wealth of experience about life as a wheelchair user, as he has been a paraplegic for 20 years. During his journey, he has faced many challenges but has worked tirelessly to overcome these. Nazeem obtained his driver’s license and owns his own vehicle, with the strength and mobility to transfer independently in and out of his vehicle. Additionally, Nazeem was a high-school dropout but completed his NQF Level 4 certificate in Business Administration in 2016 which is equivalent to Matric. This enabled him to participate in the Work Readiness Programme and apply for the role as Program Assistant. Nazeem’s open mindedness, excitement for new challenges and positive attitude have already helped him to excel in the office. We are very excited to have Nazeem on board the team; already he has added tremendous value with the recruitment of the Work Readiness Programme candidates, Buckle Up Rural and Driving Ambitions Rural projects and other smaller projects around the office. Welcome Nazeem!
Feedback from the OCC
Did you attend the George OCC? If so you may have seen our QAWC/QASA representative Lowri Williams. Lowri was at the race registration on Friday 13th September and cheering racers on the race day on Saturday 14th September. Our team showcased several QASA and QAWC programmes including QASA’s Work Readiness Programme, Driving Ambitions, Buckle Up Rural and Driving Ambitions Rural. 50 wheelchair users signed the register. Of these 37 were from the Western Cape, 3 from the Eastern Cape, 4 from Gauteng, 2 from the Free State, 1 from Mpumalanga and 1 from Kwazulu Natal. Three new members signed up in the Western Cape and 1 new members signed up to QASA from Mpumalanga. Connections were also made with other service providers including Physio SA. A Facebook competition was run, where individuals were required to take a photo with either the QASA Driving Ambitions car or Work Readiness Programme banner, upload it to Facebook and tag @QAWCZA or @QuadPara SA. The winners were decided by who had the most number of likes on their photo at 12pm on Race Day. The competition had 10 entries, and the winners were Jared McIntyre (140 likes), Brunhild Strauss (42 likes) and Olwethu Phike (69 likes). Winners received a QAWC USB, Cap and Tena wash cream. Congratulations to these winners! Thank you to all our Members who signed the register and participated in our Facebook competition! The OCC is always a great event and we hope to connect with our Members at many more in the future.
We gave our members the opportunity to work with a blank canvas. Design a mural that will welcome people to the QAWC office. Members could use visuals, words or a combination of the 2, the choice was theirs. The winning artwork(s) will still be decided by a panel, blown up and painted onto this wall, additionally the winner will also receive R500 payment as well as a goody bag!
Casual Day 2019
We are very proud to be able to report on a very successful 2019 Casual Day Campaign. The theme of this years campaign was “Time to Shine” and that is exactly what our members and staff did by putting a massive amount of effort into ensuring that we sold more stickers than previous years. In fact, thanks to the phenomenal contribution of our committed members and supporters, QAWC sold a grand total of 13 801 stickers which resulted in us being the best performing of all the QASA affiliated Regional Associations. On Casual Day, Anthony, our General Manager, spoke at an event hosted by the Department of Social Development where they celebrated Casual Day and also took the opportunity to formally start the campaign of collecting of breadtags as part of the “Breadtags for Wheelchairs” initiative. All in all this year’s Casual Day was a huge success and QAWC would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every person who contributed to the success, you truly did make it our Time to Shine.”
Work Readiness Programme
The QASA vision is that all Quadriplegics and Paraplegics will live their lives to their full potential and the Work Readiness Programme is the flagship programme in achieving this. For persons with disabilities, working is not just an investment in themselves but is a positive way to contribution to the South African economy. The Work Readiness Programme is currently in the 4th and final intake for the year! Over the course of the year, the programme has allowed 20 wheelchair users, and 1 associate member to move through a 2 month simulated workplace with the goal of securing employment. To date, the programme has a 90% success rate for graduated candidates who have found either permanent positions or internships. Would you like to be involved in this great programme? Email Nazeem today at firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting the office.
WRP – Success Stories
The Work Readiness Programme has many success stories! Zara Talmarkes and Mbuleo Sibunzi are both employed by Mr D as Online Assistant Shoppers. Rashied Abrahams is completing an internship at Shonaquip as a Program and Impact Assistant. Nazeem Khan has started with QAWC as the Program Assistant. Anda Mthulu, our previous Digital Village trainer, has embarked full time on his journey of entrepreneurship with his business MSI Shoe Shine now more successful than ever. Louis Choonoo has started work at Edgars Cape Gate as a Specialist Recruitment Consultant. Danyal Salmon has started an internship with Edit Microsystems as General Product Support. Yongama Fuzane has started at Altron Byttes Solutions. Ricardo Lodewyk will be starting an internship in Awareness and Skills Promotion with Changeability on 1st November. Marco Pietrowski is studying to become a Personal Trainer through the QASA Education Fund. Xolile Tyhulu will be starting his internship with Tygerberg APD on the 1st November, and finally Sandise Mnukwa is starting an internship in Patient Administration at Mediclinic Panorama. We are certainly very excited about all these opportunities for our WRP candidates, and look forward to sharing many more with you!
Success Feature Story – Nokulunga Mdingi
One of our favourite success stories is that of Nokulunga (Lunga) Mdingi. Lunga is a beautiful, motivated and passionate lady who was trained as a nursing sister. On New Year’s Day in 2014, Lunga was involved in a terrible motor vehicle accident which left her with as a C4/C5 complete Quadriplegic. Due to her injury Lunga now utilises a chin controlled wheelchair and had been reluctant to pursue a career in health due to her disability, thinking rather that she must explore administrative opportunities. Through a connection with Cape Town Child Welfare, QAWC was made aware of was the need within Child Welfare to up-skill many of the social workers with the ability to read medical referrals and interpret complex medical jargon. Lunga was perfect for this role! Through a 12 month internship funded by QASA, Lunga has started work at Cape Town Child Welfare as the Health and Wellness Mentor where she now leads training staff around interpreting important medical document, delivers training to families at parent workshops and providing individualised medical support for families around medication, diet and more. There are plans to broaden her scope with children, families, health, disability and wellbeing. In Lunga’s own words “I am very pleased with the opportunity I got because it has allowed me a chance to practice again as a registered nurse which I never thought would be possible since I am a wheelchair user. This has been a lesson to me that anything is possible with the right approach”. The team at Child Welfare have commented that they feel extremely gratified to offer Lunga meaningful work, and that she can recognize her value already from such a short space of time in their workplace.
In August a small QAWC team headed up the West Coast in order to visit and speak to learners at schools in these rural areas. Our team of 3 wheelchair users who were accompanied by their assistants visited a total of 5 schools, with learners who were exposed to our team’s message hearing about the reality of life as a wheelchair user, some of the daily challenges faced as well as the correct way to speak to and interact with persons who are disabled. Each group who were exposed to our team’s stories listened with interest and engaged with the speakers by asking numerous in-depth questions. We thoroughly enjoyed the time we spent in Vredendal and the surrounding areas and look forward to more school visits early in 2020.
On 14 September the Annual General Meeting of the QuadPara Association of South Africa (QASA) took place. The AGM, which was held at the QASA office complex, was attended by representatives from the various Regional Associations affiliated to QASA, with Richard Barron and Anthony Ghillino representing QAWC. At the AGM the outgoing Board reflected on a successful year and reported on all the Association’s achievements, activities and challenges from the previous year. On a sad note, the AGM also gave members the opportunity to say farewell and thank you to be outgoing QASA CEO, Ari Seirlis, who has unfortunately had to end his long and successful association with QASA due to poor health. Under Ari’s leadership and guidance, QASA grew and developed into a significant role player in the disability sector and the legacy that he leaves behind within the organisation and disability sector as a whole is significant and will last for many years to come. After the AGM, the newly elected Board met and elected an Executive committee consisting of Norman Wright as Chairperson, Simon Manganye as Vice Chairperson, Richard Barron to the position of Treasurer and Pauline Mofokeng as an additional member of the Executive. With Raven Benny now filling the position of Chief Operations Officer it is a time of change and QASA but at QAWC we are confident that our national organisation is in good hands.