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The Australian High Commission visits QAWC
On the 30th September QAWC were proud to welcome Gita Kamath and Edward Cohen from the Australian High Commission who are based in Pretoria to our office. The Australian High Commission have provided assistance to both QAWC and QASA over the last few years, enabling us to assist our members in various ways. The QAWC leadership as well as a handful of members and staff spent the afternoon engaging with our friends from the Australian High Commission, sharing experiences and stories. We felt honoured to have the High Commission with us and welcomed the opportunity to introduce them to more of the work that QAWC does. QAWC recently applied for and received funds from the Australian High Commission through their Direct Aid Programme which will enable us to roll out programmes which will directly impact on the quality of lives of our members. More details of these initiatives are further down in the newsletter. After enjoying some traditional South African milk tart with the QAWC Team, the Australian High Commission headed to the airport and back home. We thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to get to know the Australian High Commission a little better and look forward to continuing to work together to improve the lives of quadriplegics and paraplegics in the Western Cape.
Henley MBA students
In October 7 students based at the Henley Business School in London who are studying to complete their MBA’s engaged with QAWC regarding the reputation that QAWC has in the community amongst our members. The purpose of the engagement was for the students to provide QAWC with input on our shortcomings in the eyes of our members and then to provide us with recommendations on how best to improve the services, programs and projects that we currently offer. While we have not received the final report, we did receive formal feedback which has served as a teaser as to the findings that will be delivered to us at a later stage. From what we have already seen, the info we have received will most certainly enable us to provide you, our members, with a service which is more in line with what you actually want. Our sincere thanks to all of you who participated in the research by completing questionnaires, participating in online interviews etc. The views which you shared were strictly confidential and will be used to help QAWC to better help our members. We thank the Henley students for the time and effort that they put into the research and we look forward to receiving the final report towards the end of January.
Visiting schools in order to raise awareness about wheelchair users amongst learners at schools has become a large part of the QAWC DNA over the years. The Covid19 related protocols which have been in place prevented us from visiting schools for close to 18 months so when South Africa exited the 3rd wave of infections and restrictions at schools were eased slightly, QAWC jumped at the opportunity to resume our awareness program. Having not been able to visit schools for so long the team excitedly set out for George to visit schools in Rheenendal, Oudtshoorn, Dyseldorp, George & Mossel Bay. During the period 11-15 October our team visited 12 schools and while the Covid19 protocols which had to be followed made for a different experience to what we have been used to over the years, the learners reacted with their normal enthusiasm and excitement to our team.
Needing to make use of the opportunity to visit schools while the Covid19 protocols allowed, our team then went off to Vredendal where the QAWC team visited a further 12 schools over 4 days from 9-12 November. Many of the schools that we visited were smaller “farm” schools, with the smallest school visited consisting of just 39 learners! Visiting the schools in areas such as Koekenaap, Clanwilliam, Trawal, Doring Baai, Lutzville and Ebenezer was an eye-opener and humbling experience for our team members. The learners thoroughly enjoyed our presentation and were particularly excited to see team member Brenton Swartz, a quadriplegic with limited arm and hand function, drive his adapted vehicle using 2 different joysticks. We were very pleased to be able to reach so many learners and expose them to our lessons on disability. We look forward to visiting more schools early in 2022.
Provincial Vaccine Steering Committee
The Covid19 pandemic continues to impact on the lives of all South Africans as we continue to live in unprecedented times. With compromised respiratory systems, quadriplegics and paraplegics are at risk of severe illness in the event of being infected with the virus. The Western Cape Department of Health identified the need to raise awareness about the vaccine amongst people with disabilities and the QAWC General Manager was asked to serve on the Vaccine Steering Committee to ensure that people with disabilities are adequately catered for in the Province’s planning. While QAWC respects each individuals rights and their freedom of choice, we encourage our members to go for the vaccine as with billions of people around the world already vaccinated, the vaccine has proved to be safe and importantly, effective at preventing severe illness and death. Should any of our members have any concerns about the vaccine or require more information, you are welcome to make contact with Anthony, our General Manager who will strive to answer any questions you have, or alternatively, put you in touch with someone who can provide you with the info/assistance that you require.
In a previous newsletter I reported on a successful outing to the Greenpoint Biodiversity Park which was attended by a handful of QAWC members. It was our plan to have similar outings every 3 months, however, Covid19 forced us to delay any further outings until we felt it was relatively safe to gather outside together again. With case numbers relatively low, we ventured out to Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden on the 2nd November where a total of 13 wheelchair users and their helpers got together to enjoy the beauty of the Kirstenbosch Garden. QAWC was very grateful to receive complimentary tickets for our members to enter the garden as without this generosity we would not have been able to go on this excursion. The wonderful team from Coloplast, our partner in this initiative, arranged for the sponsorship of bottled water and delicious snacks which were enjoyed in the shade next to a river by all present. Members took opportunity to explore, however, the sheer size of the Garden meant that only a small percentage of the garden was properly explored, leaving the Canopy Treetop Walk a “must do” for those who attended when next they visit the garden. Unfortunately these outings are often only advertised at very short notice because of the difficulty of planning during a pandemic, however, I encourage you to keep an eye on your e-mails for the announcement of when the next outing will be taking place. Our sincere thanks and gratitude to all who attended as well as to Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens for the complimentary tickets and Coloplast for the delicious snacks!
Australia Volunteer Program – Volunteers Who Make a Difference
Many of you will remember our 1st volunteer from Australia, Lowri Williams, who spent 2 years in the QAWC office between 2017 and 2019. Lowri made a big impact on QAWC while she was here and while we were excited for her for the opportunities that she went back to Australia to explore, we certainly really missed her. However, with the worldwide pandemic meaning that the Australian Volunteer Program, who Lowri volunteered at QAWC through, have not been able to place volunteers in many countries around the world so have moved their program to an online one! This has proved to be successful and beneficial to QAWC as we now have 4 people volunteering at QAWC through the program. The 1st is a familiar face Yes, it’s Lowri! In her spare time LowrI has volunteered to revamp our website. Based in Sydney, Lowri, who knows QAWC very well from her 2 years volunteering with us, is taking time to slowly but surely modernise our website which will be launched soon! It’s great to have you on board again Lowri!
We are also extremely fortunate to have Bukhosi Masango volunteering at QAWC where he is assisting us to raise funds and awareness. Bukhosi who is a student in Melbourne, is a first-generation Australian with his mom also in Melbourne and his dad currently in Maritzburg. Many of you will have seen our “Donate a Cup of Coffee” campaign on social media which has been very successful and was the brainchild of Bukhosi. We have thoroughly enjoyed having Bukhosi on the team, even though he is a Sharks supporter!
Last but not least, we have recently welcomed 2 new volunteers to the team, namely Anna Nevskaja & Stephan Siebert who are based in Europe and have joined our team in order to assist us with our IT requirements. Anna and Stephan have quickly realised the size of the task as the QAWC team is notoriously technologically challenged, however Anna and Stephan have been absolutely great and are making steady progress in their quest to bring QAWC’s IT up to speed.
We are extremely grateful for the relationship that exists between QAWC, the volunteers and AVP and look forward to this relationship going from strength to strength for many years to come.
Distribution of Medical Supplies
Thanks to funds received through the Direct Aid Programme of the Australian High Commission, QAWC has secured a limited amount of medical supplies which we are proud to be able to offer to you our members. Should you require any of the following medical supplies that QAWC has in stock, please e-mail the QAWC office on firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can arrange for some supplies to be sent to you. The supplies that we currently have are:
1. Indwelling catheters size 16
2. Indwelling catheters size 18
3. Linen savers
4. Gloves – medium and large
5. Penile sheaths/condom catheters (size 30)
6. Penile sheaths/condom catheters (size 35)
7. 2L urine drainage bags (bed bags)
8. 750ml urine drainage bags (leg bags)
9. KY jelly
Please note that the following apply:
1. QAWC has limited stock of these supplies so supplies will be allocated on a 1st come 1st served basis
2. While the supplies have been sourced from credible suppliers and are of a good quality, QAWC will not be held responsible in the event of any illness or injury caused to a person as a result of using the supplies
3. Please note that this is a once off and will apply while stocks last. QAWC will not be in a position to provide you with these medical supplies on an ongoing basis
4. QAWC will arrange for the supplies to be delivered directly to you. In cases where members live outside of Cape Town, the supplies will be sent to a PEP store close to where you live. You will then be responsible for collecting the supplies from the PEP store
5. These medical supplies are given to you by QAWC and are intended for your personal use. These supplies are not to be swapped or sold
6. QAWC members who receive medical supplies are requested to forward a photograph of themselves with the supplies to the QAWC office within 24 hours of receipt of the supplies.
7. By applying for these medical supplies, you are agreeing to give QAWC permission to use the photograph/s of you receiving your supplies on QAWC social media platforms, the QAWC newsletter and in reports to the Australian High Commission who provided the funding for this project
a. Should you have a valid reason why your photograph should not be used as described above, you may appeal to the QAWC Board for exemption from this point
8. Should you have any excess medical supplies that other members can use, please feel free to pass them on to the QAWC driver when your supplies are delivered to you
We look forward to you making contact with a list of the medical supplies which you require.
Ramps & Pathways
In addition to the medical supplies mentioned above, The Australian High Commission will be assisting our members by providing funds to build ramps and pathways to a limited number of our members homes. Through their Direct Aid Programme, QAWC will build ramps and pathways which will create access to and from the homes of 12 of our members. QAWC members who require a ramp or a pathway to ensure that they are able to access their homes independently are encouraged to make contact with the QAWC office to have their name added to the list. As funds are limited, QAWC will assist members on a “1st come, 1st served” basis, with those that we are not able to help having their name added to a waiting list for when we receive funding for this again. Please note that the scale of the building work which we will undertake is limited and the idea of the program is not to tackle large construction projects, but rather relatively small interventions which will have a large impact on the day-to-day lives of the beneficiary. We are looking forward to this project kicking off early in 2022, don’t forget to e-mail the office on email@example.com to express your interest.
Cricket at Newlands Cricket Ground
With the Indian cricket team visiting South Africa and scheduled to play one of the test matches at Newlands Cricket Ground, we were hoping to use this newsletter to inform members of all the arrangements for those who would like to attend the test match. Unfortunately, with the current increase in Covid19 infections, uncertainty as to whether or not the test will go ahead, and if it does, whether or not spectators will be allowed has returned. As things stand there is no indication of whether or not we will be allocated seats in our suite as in years gone by. We continue to be in contact with the appropriate people at Newlands and will inform members of any good news about whether or not we can attend if/when we receive it.
It is with great sadness that we inform you of the passing QAWC member and Board member, Lunga Mdingi, who sadly passed away on the 19th November. Lunga became known to QAWC shortly after her accident while she was in rehabilitation at the Vincent Pallotti@Life Rehabilitation Unit. Lunga enthusiastically got involved in the organisation, attending Support Groups and regularly touched base with our General Manager. Lunga, a nursing sister by profession, was one of the QAWC members who participated in the 1st intake of the Work Readiness Program and the manner in which she tackled each and every task and grew as a person while on the programme was very special to witness. Lunga spent a year working as an intern at Child Welfare when she was able to use her new-found skills as well as those that she learnt as a nursing sister to have a positive impact on the lives of children who were going through challenging times. QAWC saw the huge potential that Lunga had and when we were looking for someone to conduct caregiver training for us, we had no hesitation in approaching Lunga as we knew that she had all the qualities required to be a success. We were absolutely right and while she was only able to conduct one training session before Covid19 put a stop to all training, the manner in which she went about the training was admirable and a reflection of the quiet determined nature that Lunga had. In July 2020 Lunga was elected to serve on the QAWC Board, a task which she tackled with enthusiasm and dedication. Lunga’s sudden passing was a shock to all and will leave a huge void in the lives of all who knew her. Our sincere, condolences to her son, parents, family and friends. Rest Peacefully Lunga, your loyal, friendly, generous nature and beautiful smile will be missed.
QAWC Office Closure & Reopening in 2022
After a challenging year, the QAWC team are looking forward to enjoying a much-needed break. Please note that the QAWC office will close at 1 PM on 15 December and reopen on 10 January 2022. The QAWC Board and staff members wish all QAWC members a safe, happy and healthy festive season. We look forward to serving you again in 2022.
If you would like to download a Pdf of the above Newsletter, please click on the link below:
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Coral Tech, the developer of the VoQoL system, very generously donated the installation of a VoQoL system to QAWC to be used to benefit one of our members. The VoQoL installations have proved to be life changing for those who have already benefited from them as they enable the user to control some electronic devices using their voice. Users can control their TVs, switch their lights on and off, control a device that is plugged into an electric socket, switch between radio stations, send an SMS to a predetermined number and much more just by using their voice! The QAWC Board decided to select a recipient for the installation by means of a lucky draw, with any member who had a suitable Internet connection eligible to go into the draw. The opportunity was advertised on Facebook and also via e-mail to all members on our database. The draw, which was done by QAWC member Welile Mbonja, took place at the QAWC office with Taurik Booley the lucky winner. The installation has already been done and Taurik is enjoying the independence that the VoQoL system brings. On behalf of Taurik and QAWC, we thank Coral Tech for their fantastic support of QAWC and for improving the lives of persons with disabilities. Thank you Coral Tech!
In February QAWC started a new initiative aimed at assisting members who do not receive sufficient medical supplies from their day hospitals. QAWC has observed that a number of our members do not receive the medical supplies that they desperately require from the day hospital while other members receive more than they require and have excess stock in their cupboards. QAWC has put out a call to members who have excess medical supplies to donate them to QAWC so that we can redistribute them to those members who are in need.
Correspondence went out on social media as well as via e-mail and we received a good response from a number of members who have kindly donated excess supplies. Edward, the QAWC driver, collected the supplies from members, delivering them to the QAWC office where they were sorted and stored. Members in need of supplies were encouraged to make contact with our office, with those who expressed a need receiving some of the supplies that were in our store. This project has got off to an excellent start and we are pleased to have been able to offer assistance to members in real need of the supplies. This is an ongoing project and we look forward to receiving your excess medical supplies should you have any. If you are in need of supplies such as bed bags, leg bags, KY Jelly, suppositories, catheters (indwelling, intermittent & condoms) or any other supplies please make contact with Esme on firstname.lastname@example.org.
From time to time QAWC is in the position to offer second-hand computers to our members. QAWC maintains a list of members who have requested a computer and/or laptop and in the event of devices becoming available we distribute the computers to members according to the waiting list. We were very grateful to be able to provide 6 computers and a laptop to members during this last quarter. With the Work Readiness Program being held online, QAWC no longer had a need for the computers in the training room so the Board decided to distribute the computers to our members on the waiting list. These devices were sent to members in diverse areas around our province, including Hawston and Montagu and we are very pleased to have been able to assist our members in this way. While we don’t currently have any computers or laptops available, should you require a computer/laptop please be sure to put your name on our waiting list so that in the event of computers/laptops becoming available you will be in line to receive one.
Get To Know Esmé
In our newsletters we will be introducing you to the QAWC staff and Executive Board members who keep QAWC running. In this quarter’s newsletter we start with the longest serving member of the team, our Administration Manager, Esmé Kleinschmidt. Esmé, who is the mother of 2 children, was employed as secretary of QAWC in 2004 and was the sole employee of QAWC in those days. Having never previously had much interaction with people withquadriplegia and paraplegia, Esmé was exposed to a whole new world and quickly set about learning about and becoming comfortable in her new working environment. Esmé has now been a part of the QAWC team for 17 years and has built up a huge amount of knowledge and expertise and is able to refer and advise wheelchair users appropriately. As QAWC has grown, so has the role that Esmé plays in the organisation and 2 years ago Esme assumed the position of QAWC Administration Manager. An excellent administrator, Esmé is extremely organised, efficient and ensures that all administration matters at QAWC are taken care of in a professional and prompt manner. Away from QAWC, Esmé is passionate about the well-being of animals, volunteering at various animal shelters. Esmé is also a massive sports fan, with cricket a particular favourite of hers. Esmé says that one of the highlights of her time at QAWC has been getting to meet many interesting people and being able to assist to improve the lives of quadriplegics and paraplegics in the Western Cape. QAWC is fortunate to have such a competent and experienced administrator managing the office and ensuring that our administration remains in order.
Dial a Ride Update
Transport remains one of the biggest challenges facing persons with disabilities and wheelchair users in particular. The City of Cape Town Dial a Ride project provides a very limited accessible service which a number of our members make use of. QAWC has recently engaged with the City extensively around the service and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. With the current service providers contract expiring on the 31 March 2021 and the tender to run the service not yet awarded to a new service provider for various reasons, there was a very real concern that the service would cease on 1 April 2021. Fortunately the City were proactive and engaged with various role players, including QAWC, in order to find a solution. It has been resolved that the current service provider will operate the Dial a Ride service for an additional 6 months meaning that the service will not be interrupted at all. The City are in the process of drawing up a new business plan for the Dial a Ride service and have consulted extensively with QAWC, organisations of and for persons with disabilities and other transport service providers. While we are not exactly sure what the new service will look like QAWC will continue to engage with the City in an attempt to ensure that a service that is suitable and appropriate is offered to our members. At the same time, QAWC continues to emphasise to the City that a fully integrated accessible public transport system is the desired solution to the transport needs of persons with disabilities.
Coloplast Social Group
Coloplast, a supplier of incontinence and wound care products, are a friend and supporter of the QuadPara Association who recognise the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. The Covid 19 pandemic has seen many wheelchair users confined to their homes and interacting with people even less than normal. This has had a significant psychological and emotional impact on the lives of many of our members. Coloplast and QAWC want to get wheelchair users out into public open spaces where they can enjoy fresh air and the beauty that our country has to offer. As such, we will be arranging quarterly outings to various places of interest in and around the Cape Peninsula. Unfortunately our 1st outing which was scheduled to take place on 4 February 2021 was postponed due to the country being lockdown alert level III. The great news is that our 1st outing for this year will take place on 15 April. We will be visiting the Green Point Biodiversity Park and will be there from 11am – 1pm. For more details please make contact with Anthony on email@example.com. Please watch your inbox for more info on this outing as well as the outings which will take place on a quarterly basis. We look forward to you joining us!
QAWC Social Media
Regular users of social media and Facebook in particular will have noticed that there are daily posts on the QAWC Facebook page. Nazeem, our Communications Officer, does an excellent job of posting appropriate and interesting content on our Facebook page. This has seen our number of followers grow significantly. QAWC also has a profile on LinkedIn, the aim of which is to showcase the skills that our members who are looking for employment and to potential employers. If you are looking for a job be sure to visit our LinkedIn profile and to follow us. Our daily themed posts on Facebook have proved to be very popular and we are appealing to our members who have their own businesses to send details about their business and themselves to Nazeem at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Tuesdays we profile and advertise members businesses using the hash tag #tradingTuesday. This has proved very popular and successful and a great way for our members businesses to get some exposure. We look forward to promoting your business on our Facebook page soon.
The QAWC office and Covid 19
Please note that QAWC continues to follow and adhere to all Covid 19 protocols and as such our staff continue to mainly work from home. The QAWC team would like to make our members aware of the fact that the office is not staffed every day so please be sure to find out if a staff member will be at the office before coming to visit us. When visiting the office, all visitors are expected to wear their masks and adhere to all other protocols that are in place. Our office team continue to be available on e-mail as per normal and can be contacted telephonically as well.