Commemorating two awareness days

2019-04-02 06:00

As we commemorate both Human Rights Day and International Down Syndrome Day, I would like to highlight the role of government in ensuring the right to dignity for persons with intellectual disabilities. I will do so by sharing Sammie’s story.

Sammie was born to a family who was unable to care for her due to her intellectual and physical disability. Most of her life has been spent in residential homes. At one of these residential homes, she attended the Umthi special class. Through Umthi, she was shown love and made to feel productive and useful. However, at the age 18 she graduated from Umthi and was no longer able to receive the same attention. She experienced a sense of rejection, became depressed and violent towards herself and others.

The compassionate staff at the Down Syndrome Association Western Cape and the Sivuyile Residential Facility took it upon themselves to begin a new initiative, Masandé, which means let us prosper. This initiative ensured that individuals such as Sammie, over the age of 18, had a new loving environment in which they could attend.

Consequently, Sammie’s behaviour improved drastically and she no longer caused harm to herself or others. She once again felt that she mattered, was useful and could make a difference in the life she lived.

This government has ensured Sammie’s welfare by continuing to support organisations such as the Down Syndrome Association Western Cape which facilitates programmes such as Masandé in partnership with the Sivuyile Residential Facility. I am pleased to announce that in the next financial year we will be providing 30 new bed spaces to Sivuyile.

As the minister of social development, I will continue to protect the right to dignity of all persons with intellectual disabilities. As such, the department has increased its specialised services to persons with disabilities from 120 people in 2009 to 88 000 people in 2018.

MEC Albert Fritz, MEC for Social Development
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