Leave no person with disabilities behind

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The challenge that the project addresses

At least one in five people have a learning, mental health, physical, sensory or other disability. All these disabilities make this group of people uniquely vulnerable to the disruptive consequences of Covid-19. Little has been done to provide people with disabilities with the support needed to protect them during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, even though many of them are part of the high-risk group. Whether we are talking about issues of food insecurity, access to healthcare/testing, switching to telework, or life-or-death medical decisions, people with disabilities are deeply impacted. This crisis demands leadership at every level of government, every sector of civil society, and from the disability community itself.

For people with disabilities, all the general challenges that come with covid19 certainly apply, but there are additional challenges for people living with disabilities that our project seeks to address.

Face masks are expensive

Besides the difficult challenges of looking after the needs of their living, people with disabilities find themselves with an added expense of buying a mask. With the high demand for masks as a result of Covid19, everybody is rushing to buy a mask. Not only do people living with disabilities have limited mobility, they are also faced with the high costs of the masks.

Lack of clean water and soap

Sanitation is still a major challenge in many informal settlements of Cape Town. The best way to prevent Covid-19 is to wash your hands as often as possible with clean running water. Washing of hands is highly recommended for at least 20 seconds in order to minimize the infection risk. However, in areas where our project operates, there are certain areas where water is a problem. People in these areas walk to a certain point for them to fetch water. Given this water problem, frequent hand washing is not always feasible for some people with certain types of physical disabilities as they would not be able to travel to those points to get some water. Washing hands regularly in such communities will not be possible. If water is provided by the local government, people living with disabilities will always compete to get water with the able-bodied. In order to fight the spread of coronavirus, the World Health Organization recommends the use of clean water and soap.

Sanitizers are expensive

If soap and water are not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help avoid getting sick and spreading the virus to others. As the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus continues, demand for basic sanitary items namely hand sanitizer is increasing along, leading to hand sanitizer sold out at stores across South Africa. Their prices skyrocketed. The hand sanitizers which were earlier priced at R40 are now R150. This has adversely affected everybody and is causing the virus to spread because people cannot afford to purchase these sanitizers. Poor people, especially those living with disabilities in the poor communities that our projects operate, cannot afford to buy high-cost hand sanitizers, living them vulnerable to the virus. Although the use of sanitizers is recommended, for the people living with disabilities in poor communities, it becomes a luxury as they cannot afford to buy them. Their priority remains basic needs for survival such as food. But this does not exclude them from the threat of the virus.

Stay informed

As Covid-19 spreads across the world it is important that everyone stays armed with the right information. During this period of coronavirus, nobody must be left out due to a lack of proper information. Our project has realized that getting COVID 19 information can be more difficult for people with vision, hearing, and even cognitive disabilities, as popular news sources may not be accessible, especially when information is changing quickly.

Food shortage

People living with disabilities in the areas that we are serving have serious food shortages. These people have siblings who were once working. However, due to the current lockdown in South Africa, they are not working leaving them with no option but to use their disability grant to feed themselves and their siblings. This shortage of food has impacted negatively on their health.

What is your project doing to respond to this challenge?

While there is a lot of pressure and certainly a high demand to meet the Covid-19 surge, it is still crucial to make sure that the disability community is being considered. Our project is responding to the needs of the people living with disabilities and curbing the spread of the virus by providing the following:
1. Providing face Masks
The project voluntarily makes and provides face masks to 98 people living with disabilities in the informal settlements of Gugulethu, Nyanga, Lower, and Phillip. People living with disabilities often need to go to extreme lengths and overcome steep odds when trying to ensure the necessary care. In order to lessen the financial burden associated with the buying of masks for people living with disabilities, the project is providing them with free masks.
2. Providing hand sanitizers
The World Health Organization recommends the use of sanitizers with at least 60% alcohol content to curb the spread of the Corona Virus. The demand for sanitizers has made the prices of sanitizers unaffordable to the less fortunate especially those living with disabilities in the poor communities that we serve. Our project is providing 300 ml of sanitizers to 98 people living with disabilities in Gugulethu, Nyanga, Lower, and Phillip.
3. Providing clean Water
Washing of hands regularly is encouraged in order to fight the COVID 19 virus. Many people living with disabilities in poor communities that our project operates, face water challenges. In communities such as Lower and Nyanga, water is a big problem. Water is rationed making it difficult for those living with disabilities to compete for water with the able-bodied. Our project is currently providing 40 liters of water to 33 people who are living with disabilities.
4. Keeping people living with disabilities informed on Corona information & updates
To ensure that people with disabilities in the area that our project serves are not deprived of lifesaving information, two of our project members are able to communicate in sign language and they make sure that proper communication reaches those who may be left out due to communication problems. Our project also prints updates on COVID 19 on leaflets that we give to our project beneficiaries. The project has produced a DVD that will soon be given to the SABC for consideration to be aired for those living with disabilities, especially the deaf. This is in line with Article 9 (Accessibility) of the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. This article states that “member states must provide equal access to people with disabilities. People living with disabilities need to access information for them to participate
meaningfully with others. This is very important in order to understand how to prevent the virus from spreading.
5. Providing food parcel
Our project believes that food is medicine, food is love, food nourishes the soul, and that no one should be left hungry during this time of covid19. All 98 project beneficiaries living with different disabilities are provided with food parcels. Most of these project beneficiaries are breadwinners and their social disability grant is not enough to feed themselves and their siblings. Because of the current lockdown,
their siblings who were once working are currently not. Our project is providing them with 5 kg of meal mealie, 2litres of cooking oil, a 7kg packet of potatoes, and 2 tin of beans.
Our project hopes that these measures will help combat the spread of the virus and help encourage people to be aware of the measures that they can take to contribute to this fight of covid19.

Describe the project's impact

– Mobilization of resources for persons with disabilities and their families
– Making persons with disabilities feel part of the community in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
– Making constant distribution of Covid19 updates to people with disabilities.
– Persons with disabilities and their families will be kept healthy by providing food parcels.
– Preventing the disabled and their families from contracting and spreading the virus by providing masks, sanitizers, water, and soap.
– Those who are deaf have all the information about Covid-19 through our two interpreters and the leaflets that we print for them.