Mobility restored one bread tag at a time

2016-11-09 06:01
Maggie Machwaneng (69) in her brand-new wheelchair with Ayesha Paulsen (left), occupational therapist at the Kimberley Hospital, and Dorothy-Anne Howitson, Kimberley bread tags collection agent. Photo: Boipelo Mere

Maggie Machwaneng (69) in her brand-new wheelchair with Ayesha Paulsen (left), occupational therapist at the Kimberley Hospital, and Dorothy-Anne Howitson, Kimberley bread tags collection agent. Photo: Boipelo Mere

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“God is great, God always has a way for everybody,” said Maggie Machwaneng (69) from John Daka, Kimberley, on Thursday (03/11) after she had been seated in her brand-new wheelchair for the first time.

She left everyone who was present at the handing over of the wheelchair with a lump in their throat, as she shed tears of joy about this important aid.

She had been waiting for this help for more than three years, after suffering a stroke, which left her paralysed on her right side and therefore unable to walk.

Machwaneng lives with her 50-year-old daughter Catherine, who takes care of her.

The new wheelchair was delivered by Dorothy-Anne Howitson, a Kimberley bread tags collection agent, and Ayesha Paulsen, an occupational therapist at the Kimberley Hospital, thanks to a project through which 270 kg of bread tags were collected.

The initiative led to the Polystyrene Packaging Company, in partnership with Dis-Chem, donating wheelchairs in an effort to change the lives of people living with disabilities.

The bread tags collected are recycled into seedling trays, cornices, skirtings, outdoor furniture, coat hangers, poles and decking.

Wiping away her tears, Machwaneng revealed how she could not walk long distances, as her walking stick can not support her body completely.

“I am lucky, not everyone gets this opportunity. Many people struggle to get wheelchairs.”

Catherine said it would now be easier to take her mother to the clinic, pay points and to church.

She expressed the wish that the initiative would be extended to other people who might need wheelchairs.

Tampane Motlhanke, a family friend, said requests for wheelchairs had to be made immediately after someone had suffered a stroke. This would shorten the time they had to wait for wheelchairs.

“Then we will witness fewer people suffering the indignity of arriving at pay points in wheelbarrows,” Motlhanke said.

Catherine added that, should her mother recover her mobility, they would, in future, not hesitate to pass on the wheelchair to somebody who might need it.

For Howitson this was an emotional experience.

“It is such a privilege to see the fruit of a community’s faithful collection change the life of an individual,” Howitson said.

“I know that it sounds crazy to some people, but 1+1+1+1 eventually equalled 270 kg of bread tags.”

She explained that faithful collectors such as Keep Kimberley Clean run their projects by using libraries as collection points to make it a success.

Other partners are the West End Primary School, Christian Brothers’ College (CBC), Kimberley Girls’ High School, Kimberley Baptist Church, Newton Dutch Reformed Church, the Wesley Methodist Church and the community at large.

All of these entities had been donating their tags to her over a five-year period.

According to Howitson, the hard work was continuing, as 46 kg had already been collected as a next project.

“I believe the community will from now on collect these small little tags to make a difference.

“This is a first for Kimberley, but in South Africa more than 400 wheelchairs have been donated.

“It is humbling to be the instrument which changes the circumstances of this precious lady.”

Howitson motivated people to become involved.

“Come on: Let’s put our shoulders to the wheel and give mobility to many more.”

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