Disability not crippling

2015-11-10 06:00
Thanks to the City of Cape Town and the Health Care workers from the Health Department, Mogamat Saieen Wilson can now enjoy more freedom. Pictured here he is flanked by Rehabilitation health worker Venicia Williams, Ruwayda Hull, Ward Councillor Solo

Thanks to the City of Cape Town and the Health Care workers from the Health Department, Mogamat Saieen Wilson can now enjoy more freedom. Pictured here he is flanked by Rehabilitation health worker Venicia Williams, Ruwayda Hull, Ward Councillor Solo

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It has claimed his mobility and affected his speech, but it has not broken his spirit.

Mogamat Saieen Wilson from Eastridge has not let the effects of his chronic disease stop him from setting goals for himself.

A small task for some could be a mountainous task for a person with disabilities, a message Wilson wants to bring across.

“Appreciate what you have. Your sight, your legs and the ability to walk. I want to walk, but I can’t,” he says.

Wilson suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS), a degenerative, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body.

He used to be a very active person and was an avid sportsman, he explains.

“I first found out that I had MS in 2003. At the time I was working in Bellville. I started falling over out of nowhere and had to ask people to help me up and across the street,” he says.

“The doctor told me I had a mild case of MS. I asked him for the tablets to treat it, but he told me there was no treatment.”

With tears in his eyes, Wilson explains how he lost his independence in 2010.

“I had a relapse and this time it was worse. I went in for an MRI scan and they found growths on my brain. I spent months at the hospital on a drip,” he says.

At this point in the conversation, his 74-year-old mother Fatima needs to calm him down before he can continue.

“I fell out of a double-decker bus and into the main road. I was helpless. It felt like I was glued to the ground, there was nothing I could do,” he says.

His life changed at that point. “When I was in hospital I asked the doctor when I could go back to work and he said I could not work. Here I am, thirty years old and I can’t work anymore,” he says, sobbing.

This is a very emotional topic for Wilson, explains his mother. She has been caring for him since they found out about the disease.
“It is not easy to handle him and you must have patience,” she says.
His legs are worst affected as he is unable to walk and relies on a wheelchair.
He was homebound for many months, with his mother looking after his needs.
But thanks to a partnership and new project the Wilson family is now helped by care workers who come to their home. The pilot project of the provincial department of health focuses on disabled persons in the greater Mitchell’s Plain area.
Venicia Williams, a health worker who visits the Wilsons, says the project has 11 care workers trained to deliver services that cannot be accessed by homebound patients.
“We look at the homelife holistically and see where we can assist. We visit the homes twice a week to help with grooming, exercise and any other needs the patients may have.
Ruwayda Hull, an occupational therapist with the team, says they offer a comprehensive service to residents like Wilson.
“The department has upskilled these caregivers to assist patients who can’t come to the centres. We work with them and are purely community-based. Many don’t know the service is out there. If you are struggling with a disability, speak out,” she says.
Some of the main ailments facing their patients are arthritis, disability following strokes and autism.
Ward councillor for the area Solomon Philander says meeting Wilson in his home was an eye-opener for him.
“I am going to take this as a challenge to see how we can make a budget allocation available for disability in the new year,” he says.
“You need a ramp, but where are you going to after the ramp?” asks Philander. He says looking into smaller projects, such as sports, and partnering with other organisations has him excited for the way forward.
And because of intervention by Williams and others, Wilson now has a ramp, allowing him more mobility.
“At first, we had to carry him down the high step if we wanted to go out. Now we have the ramp,” says Williams.
The City of Cape Town, which sponsored the ramp, is in the process of installing a shower system and rails that will allow Wilson to be able to bathe with a little more ease.
With the help of the health workers, Wilson has been given a new lease on life. Some of his goals are to perform the holy pilgrimage, talk about MS and, most importantly, he longs to go to a mosque to pray.
Transport is one of the major issues he has with this task, and with employment. Hull says the community will need to help to create sustainable networks and support groups that are easily accessible. Philander agrees and says neighbours should also step in to help where they can.
“Mogamat wants to be social and be around people, but transport is a major issue, not only for him but for all people with disabilities,” says Williams.
His condition will only get worse, but Wilson remains optimistic.
“For years, I thought I was alone in this and that no one cared. I just want to say thank you to everyone who stood by us in this time,” says Wilson.
  • If you would like to make use of the home-based care services, speak to the rehabilitation workers at your local health centre.

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