Wheelchair users in rural South Africa not only face challenges with accepting their disability but their mobility is challenged too


Manguzi, KwaZulu-Natal –  Manguzi is located in the farthest corner of north-eastern South Africa, nestled right up against the Mozambican border. It is well known for its deep sandy jeep tracks and scattered homesteads. Manguzi lies within the 8th most socioeconomically deprived district in South Africa.

Maryke Bezuidenhout is a physiotherapist, manager and clinical supervisor at Manguzi Hospital and heads an initiative that harnesses the experience and expertise of community members living with spinal cord injuries. She works with these community members to help support fellow disabled individuals with the necessary tools to thrive despite their disability.

“The programme plays a vital role in the community, especially for those who are unable to travel to get the support they need. Our volunteers also ensure individuals are linked to relevant medical care and social services, learn practical wheelchair skills, assist with repairs, give advice on goal setting and living a healthy active healthy lifestyle.”

As Manguzi is so rural, many using wheelchairs struggle with mobility even though they have rural active wheelchairs.

“Even with a rural active wheelchair, propelling through the thick sand for any distance is virtually impossible. Bush taxis only follow specific routes and often charge double for wheelchairs. This makes general day to day life, accessing health and welfare services, building a business, socializing and participating in community activities by wheelchair users a nightmare.”

7 wheelchair users approached Maryke to request assistance in fundraising to co-finance quad bikes for themselves. An additional R35 000 is required to meet the balance per bike purchased. Their aim is to purchase two quad bikes meaning they will need an additional R70,000 which is why they set up a BackaBuddy crowdfund.

“Quad bikes will revolutionize their mobility and independence, open up social and economic opportunities and enable them to provide psycho-social support services, build stronger networks and advocate more effectively for inclusion within their communities.”

Vusi, pictured above, became disabled when he was involved in a taxi accident on his way to the sugarcane farm where he worked. Unable to cope, his wife deserted him, leaving him on his own during the early stages of his rehabilitation.

“Vusi had no one to take him to the nearby hospital during the early stages of his rehabilitation, leaving him to recover from pressure sores and major depression on his own” 

He now looks after both his sons on his own and his children attend the local high school, repairs wheelchairs provides peer support and has a tract of land where he is growing gum trees for local production.

“Vusi has achieved so much for someone with no formal education. He never gives up.”

If you would like to support his campaign, you can do so via the BackaBuddy campaign here.

Sources: BackaBuddy
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About the Author

Tyler Leigh Vivier is a writer for Good Things Guy.

Her passion is to spread good news across South Africa with a big focus on environmental issues, animal welfare and social upliftment. Outside of Good Things Guy, she is an avid reader and lover of tea.

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