Disabled disempowered by fire

2016-03-03 06:00
 Members of Nontuthuzelo Protective Workshop with clothing hangers they break for at their workshop in Gugulethu. PHOTO: mandla mnyakama

Members of Nontuthuzelo Protective Workshop with clothing hangers they break for at their workshop in Gugulethu. PHOTO: mandla mnyakama

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Nontuthuzelo Protective Workshop centre in Gugulethu is a training hub for the disabled people to work in factories.

The centre has 41 members and it used to run a variety of programmes such as handcraft, sewing, woodwork and recycling.

However, much of the programmes have been halted due to lack of equipment.

The centre’s Nomonde Mthakathi said their problems started in 2008 after a mysterious fire destroyed their workshop.

“Now we only do plastic recycling in partnership with Hangerman – a company based in Retreat.

“We lost everything in that fire and now we are forced to share a tiny space for office, kitchen, workshop, canteen and sickroom,” she said.

“We desperately need help. We need sewing and woodwork machines and a new plot where we can build a new place to operate.

“This project started in 1979 and it is very important to us because we want to ensure that future generations who are disabled can also be empowered.

“There is a great necessity for centres of this nature to continue in our areas and prevent the abuse and discrimination against handicapped people in their homes.

“The skills they learn here will also help these men and women to access the job market or even to start their own businesses.”

Nomonde added that basic education programmes are also on top of their list.

The centre is subsidised by the social development department and get stipends from Hangerman, but this is not enough.

One of the members, Lulama Nyamza (53), said the centre had changed all their lives for the better.

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