Luckmore Takachicha is a community services manager for the Association For The Physically Disabled(APD). APD is a registered non-profit organisation helping people with most forms of physical disability. According to Takachika, APD assists people with disabilities and their families resolve their personal psychological and physical problems and empowers them to develop an independent lifestyle. Being a qualified social worker allows Takachicha to manage, coordinate, and improve the services programmes that his company offers.

“We introduced a home-based system in some parts of Ekurhuleni. We visit people with disabilities that we identified with our deferral pathways with this programme, including using online platforms. We have a team of caregivers who have some qualifications to prove it. Say they could be paraplegics, quadriplegics, they could be any disabilities. So we send our team of caregivers to try and assist them,” Takachicha tells Rise N Shine.

Initially, volunteers APD had to recruit and train caregivers for people with severe disabilities in their own homes. But later, APD realised that the duties of caregivers involved a lot of physical work. Most people with disabilities could not bathe themselves, get out of bed, and even go to the bathroom. It was for that reason that APD decided to employ caregivers. Since then, the caregivers have helped hundreds of people in Soweto, Tembisa, Alexander, and Johannesburg.

Takachicha says APD offers a home-based Care service. APD’s Social Workers started the Home Based Care Service in the early 90s after determining a need for a home-based care program in the community. Many persons with disabilities, especially those who are bedridden, were living in desperate circumstances. Sometimes even without anything to eat or drink, and nobody to clean them. In some cases, family members had left their jobs to care for their disabled people, with the result that the household income had either been dramatically reduced or completely dried up, causing even more severe problems.

“Sometimes they need to be fed, bathed, or their homes need to be cleaned. To help them live with dignity. As we do that, we try to equip family members with the skills that will enable them to take proper care of people with disabilities,” he explains. Caring for people with disabilities is crucial to the well-being of the entire country. Hence the organisation hires social workers such as Takachicha to ensure that people with disabilities are taken care of.

APD also provides programmes aiming to break down barriers in the corporate world. A Barrier Breaker recruitment prepares young people for the open labour market. It starts by identifying employment opportunities, then prepare young people for those opportunities. It also assists employers with all aspects of diversity training and facilitation.

Having ignored the rights of 4 million people living with disabilities for years, APD aims to help them play their role in the job space. The appropriate legislation might be in place, but not the proper attitude. The result is that people with physical disabilities are still invisible or inferior in the eyes of many South Africans. The programme aims to address this issue in a constructive and meaningful way.

“What we did as part of the response to unemployed, we created a division that trains people with disabilities. They are learning how to start, manage and run their businesses,” he says. Attitudinal barriers are some of the challenges many people with disabilities have to face. They range from the most basic and contribute to other obstacles. For instance, a family member limits a person with a disability from participating in everyday life and common daily activities.

“Apart from a challenge to gain access, there are also issues that I call “systemic blockages.” From a social worker’s point of view, we have to address the stigmatisation that we have. We still have members of the communities who view disabilities in mystified ways. They think a person with disabilities is disabled because of some misfortune or even witchcraft. We come across these issues when we deal with families. As a result, some families won’t send their children with disabilities to school. They have to hide this child because they don’t want the world out there to see a person living with a disability within our households. As they do so, don’t allow a person with a disability to be active in the economic space,” says Takachicha.

He says community members sometimes stereotype those with disabilities, assuming their quality of life is poor or victims of witchcraft.Stigma within society is also prevalent. It is rooted in people’s ideas related to disability.”Some people still believe that a disability is a personal tragedy that needs to be cured or prevented. Or punishment for wrongdoing,” he explains.








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