Knowledge gained through extensive monitoring and evaluation of Ndlovu’s program outcomes widens the perspective and evidence that NCG builds their programs on. In a community rife with poverty and associated medical and socio economic disadvantages, it has been established that there is a lack of dedicated care for children with physical and/or mental disabilities.
The Ndlovu Community Rehabilitation Program for Disabled Youth is a program written against the background of the following papers and has aligned the situation of the Ndlovu target area to their findings: A situation analysis (2001 – 2011) of ‘Children with Disabilities in South Africa’ compiled by the SA Departments of Social Development. Excerpts from this paper will be quoted to stave Ndlovu’s proposal.
It has been established that around 5% of the Ndlovu target population suffers of disabilities in various degrees of severity. It has been established that the general development or poverty level of any area, non-access to nutritious food, exposure to environmental or infectious agents, or social or other risk factors reflects the manifestation of disabilities. Inadequate living conditions are particularly negative for children with disabilities. According to Stats SA’s Community Survey 2007, children with disabilities are less likely to have access to adequate housing, water and sanitation than their non-disabled peers. Children with disabilities are more likely to live in traditional dwellings and informal settlements than their non-disabled counterparts. Overcrowded living conditions and outside toilets place enormous stresses on children with disabilities and their families.
There is little national evidence available on access to early learning for pre-school children with disabilities. A 2006 study found that only a quarter of children aged 0-6 years, which were recipients of the Care Dependency Grant (CDG), attended a crèche or child-minding group. Where children with disabilities do have access to early learning, it often takes place within informal community settings, with individuals (such as mothers of disabled children) running stimulation programs. The difficulty with access to information on HIV for children with disabilities is compounded by the fact that a high number of youth with disabilities are out of school, and therefore they do not benefit from school-based HIV and child protection-related programs.
Children with certain disabilities are prone to particular types of abuse: mentally and physically disabled children are at an increased risk of sexual abuse whilst those with learning disabilities are especially vulnerable to neglect and bullying. Therefore, it is important to create a safe environment for children with mental and physical disabilities.
The Joris house community rehabilitation centre is an initiative by the Ndlovu care group which is a non-profit organization that has done extensive Community Development and offered Health Care Services in the Sekhukhune district of Limpopo for the past 23 years. The centre opened its doors during the first quarter of 2017 and currently caters for beneficiaries with mental and physical disability. There are currently have 26 beneficiaries with mental disability who are unable to benefit from mainstream education and 9 beneficiaries with physical disability (mostly cerebral palsy) coming to the day care centre. There are also 5 beneficiaries that are unable to come to the centre; but receive outreach services
The work is carried out by a team which consists of an Occupational therapists, who carries out the assessment and intervention planning and implementation. The occupational therapist is assisted by dedicated community health care workers (3) and 1 cook who assist in carrying out intervention planned for the children and also caters for the children’s biological needs such as feeding. There is an in-service training weekly to ensure that team members are abreast with information and have a clear understanding of their roles.
As part of our intervention programme for the beneficiaries living with intellectual disability; the team provides skills training for beneficiaries with intellectual disabilities. This includes life skills training, social skills training and vocational skills training. The aim of this is to ensure maximal level of independence and ensuring that at the end; they are active members of the society who are economically active. We currently have a banking project and flower posts making projects currently running and are working on adding more to ensure that beneficiaries are presented with a wide variety of opportunities so that not only do they participate in something for the sake of participation but they are also doing something they are able to fall in love with. We also focus our attention on the caregivers by having bi-monthly parents/caregiver support meetings as we believe that disability doesn’t only affect the beneficiary but the whole family.
For children with physical disabilities; our programme is focused on providing care not only to the children but to their caregivers through our bi-monthly caregiver practical trainings. Our intervention for the beneficiaries with physical disability includes individual, group therapy and outreaches where we focus on home adaptations to ensure accessibility in the home environment.
One of the challenges that we have noticed to be of concern is the community’s view of disability; our focus is also on creating awareness on disability to ensure community members have the right understanding on disability; this is done through taking advantage of important dates on the national health calendar; in addition to this, We also provide quarterly outings for both parents and children to help alleviate the burden of disability, create community integration opportunities, Improved community awareness around disabilities, Reduced stigmatization of families with disabled children and ultimately Improved quality of life for the participating disabled children/youths.