‘Struggle for survival’

2018-12-13 06:03
Some of the brain damage survivors with certificates of appreciation.PHOTO: unathi obose

Some of the brain damage survivors with certificates of appreciation.PHOTO: unathi obose

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A total of about 32 car related accident survivors, assault victims and others who have suffered head injuries due to sports related clashes, across the Cape Flats, including their minders, attended a workshop which was held at the Look Out Hill in Khayelitsha last Thursday.

It emerged during the workshop that more than 600 locals have suffered brain damage as a result of these mishaps, this year alone.

It also emerged that people with neurological challenges are, to the worst, most likely to be discriminated against in their own communities, and the workshop was held to eradicate any stigma associated with brain damaged survivors, and rehabilitate them back to society.

According to Godfrey Toringepi, the programme’s manager at HeadsUp: “Most injuries occur in car accidents, physical assaults or while people were playing sport (like rugby or wrestling).”

HeadsUp is a non-governmental organisation with offices in Philippi, Mfuleni, Manenberg and Mowbray. They work with brain damaged survivors, and offer counselling to survivors and relatives alike.

He added that survivors are often discriminated against in their own community.

“We want to eradicate any stigma associated with brain damage and get the survivors back into society.

“We offer rehabilitation programmes, like counselling, spearheaded by social workers, who assist survivors in their journey to recovery,” he said. “

The problem is that brain injuries are invisible and people will pick up such cases through the actions of the victims, Toringepi offered.

Brain injuries can either lead to disabilities or paralysis.

“Some survivors lose their memory. Others display behavioural pattern changes and can even abuse alcohol excessively and become aggressive during a drunken stupor.

The injuries also manifest themselves in inappropriate behaviour, leading them to streak in public,” he said.

Other injuries become visible in the way the patients walk. Fatigue can also set in easily.

“In Khayelitsha alone, we are assisting more than 30 brain damaged patients,” said Toringepi.

Loss of earnings and joblessness was another challenge for survivors, Toringepi announced.

Nomthandazo Cawe, from TR informal settlement in Site B, said she suffered a brain injury after a shack fire.

“My whole body was engulfed in flames after our stove burst ... l have a problem with memory loss and am quick to anger. However, with the help of HeadsUp, I do manage to deal with my anger, still, the community calls us names.” she added painfully.”

Toringepi said support groups meet every Thursday to discuss challenges and seek solutions to them.

“We also visit local clinics and conduct regular talk shops to raise awareness about people suffering form brain injuries.

Call HeadsUp on 021 447 2382.

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