‘We all deserve a place in the sun’

Some of the members of Jolly Good Fellas are, at the back, Maggie Cunningham and Magdalene Maart. In front are Marilyn Jansen, Fiona Hector (chairperson) and Michelle Abels.
Some of the members of Jolly Good Fellas are, at the back, Maggie Cunningham and Magdalene Maart. In front are Marilyn Jansen, Fiona Hector (chairperson) and Michelle Abels.
Zeldré Strauss Swanepoel

MAGGIE Cunningham felt so strongly about the empowerment of the disabled that she started a group where members of the community with mental and physical disabilities can socialise, and at the same time create arts and crafts to generate an income.

Cunningham and Ursula Pillay started Jolly Good Fellas club a year ago with the purpose of enabling community members who are marginalised because of their mental or physical challenges.

The group meets every Tuesday at the Seringa Centre where they create arts and crafts which are sold at the Cleary Park Shopping Centre once a week.

A retired teacher and nurse assist the group and give lessons in sewing, crocheting, knitting and beadwork. A group of residents from the Cheshire Home in Cleary Park also joins in the activities.

“I am a retired nurse and I have a passion for working with people who have challenges. I feel strongly that the disabled should not be left to just sit around with no purpose, but should rather be given the opportunity to interact with and contribute to society,” said Cunningham.

The group was dealt a blow last year when their sewing machines, paint and knitting needles were stolen during a break-in.

“We are very grateful to Mervin and Mary-Ann Rossouw who avail the Seringa Centre to us, but if it is God’s will, we would love to have our own little place, especially for the storage of our crafts,” said Cunningham.

Group member Michelle Abels said that being a part of the Jolly Good Fellas has given her a sense of freedom and she has achieved things she never thought possible, such as obtaining her drivers’ licence.

“Many of us disabled people tend to sit at home and feel sorry for ourselves. We must realise we are not dead and can also contribute to the world. We also deserve a place in the sun. All we ask is that the community support us in what we do. We would appreciate that very much,” said Abels.

For more info call Maggie Cunningham on 071 461 0693.

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