Ama Wheelies went on another famous road-trip 10-12 April, meeting a tight appointment schedule with appointments both in Lydenburg and Nelspruit; desperate to get the first quadriplegic home in Mpumalanga started, in one of the poorest provinces of South Africa.
Meetings were conducted with both private enterprise and several Government departments doing a comprehensive application exploring all forms of funding available thru the Government and its different departments. What is remarkable is that the work is done by Quadriplegics unable to use either hand or feet. To achieve their goals the Quadriplegics got up at 2h00am Monday morning loaded and collecting one another at the various quadriplegic homes in Gauteng to be in Lydenburg 9h30am for the first appointment. Appointments last on average 3 hours with 2 meetings a day scheduled.
To appreciate the effort made by the quadriplegics we must first explain a financial dilemma. Ama Wheelies still in its fledgling stage lacking funds cannot afford expensive hotels and rely on the network of quadriplegics thru-out Mpumalanga for accommodation. Traveling up and down between the provinces trying to establish a home is extremely difficult and expensive. To date no sponsors came to the assistance of Ama Wheelies. The only funds received thus far have been obtained at Dances and Golf Days; all fundraising efforts requiring hard work. You can imagine the apprehension arriving late Monday evening all exhausted after the long day that started 2h00 that morning eventually arriving at the strange home of Tracey Todd also a quadriplegic 19h00 the evening.
How pleasant to be shown a lovely bed and all were taken care of, distributed at different homes meeting quadriplegics never known before. Yes I repeat never having met Tracey before it is remarkable how easy this motivational lady helps us unwind and nothing better than a large plate of Lasagna with fresh green salad and a warm cup of tea. And then the exciting stories. Suddenly refreshed 3 more hours was spent sharing ideas, warming and drawing on each other’s experiences but more building new friendships. Congratulations Tracey – you live an inspirational life, I personally look forward to hearing one of your motivational speeches.
The Tuesday with time on hand paperwork was completed whilst strengthening bonds between the management team of Ama Wheelies and the new found friends of Mpumalanga. A little time for relaxing was planned on Tuesday afternoon at the Lowveld Botanical gardens.
Barry’s love of plants had them take photographs of virtually every cycad on the property. In addition to the beauty of the gardens the crocodile-river cascading over the cliffs paint the most magnificent picture of the waterfall in full flood. Standing on the boardwalk some 40 meters above the waterfall feeling the mist spray certainly refreshed any visitor.
At this point it is suitable to congratulate the Lowveldt botanical gardens on their wheelchair compliant gardens. The compliment comes from Barry Botes a former Master Builder before the car-high-jacking causing Barry’s paralysis in 1994. Presently Barry contracts as an independent property assessor certifying wheelchair accessibility for SAPROPMAG – (Southern African Property Maintenance Assessors Guild) Barry was not on official (assessor business) and yet could not resist mentioning the obvious effort the Lowveld Botanical Gardens has made to accommodate wheelchairs at the Botanical Gardens. (Barry will be spending 5 days at Lower-Sabie from 17-21 May on a SANPARKS outreach initiative enabling quadriplegics to visit South African National Parks and will alsoreport back here regarding the wheelchair accessibility in Lower Sabie.)
The third and last day of the road trip started with an appointment with the Occupational Therapists from the more than 25 Government Hospitals supporting the Ama Wheelies project. The meeting was held in the Rob Ferreira Hospital’s boardroom. The next and much anticipated meeting and highlight of the trip the meeting with the DLRA or Department of Land Reform and Redevelopment anticipating the long awaited Land Grant. The disappointment can be imagined with the DLRA declining the funding of the long awaited land designated as most suitable but proposing Ama Wheelies consider alternate land cheaper
Ama Wheelies thus returned, still seeking a sponsor while awaiting the next meeting with the DLRA still none the wiser as to when the promised-land will materialize.