“Here is a tree rooted in African Soil, nourished with waters from the rivers of Africa. Let us come and sit under its shade to share common dreams. The leaves of the same branch and the branches of the same tree,” says David Matlakala, an intern at the National Council for Persons with Physical Disabilities in South Africa (NCPPDSA), quoting an ambassador.
The words brought tears to NCPPDSA Casual Day project leader Vinassa Celeste’s eyes.
The NCPPDSA is a non-profit and a non-governmental organisation (NGO) based in Edenvale, Johannesburg; it aims to build a society that values equality and helps disabled people, focusing on poor and rural communities.
“We are going throughout the country providing programmes such as public education, social empowerment, economic empowerment and corporate disability governance; these help us raise awareness and are part of the workshops we host nationwide,” says Celeste.
Over the past two years the organisation has helped more than 120 000 people.
It visits schools, communities and companies, alerting people to the need for rehabilitation services, accessible vehicles, access to facilities and assistive devices for disabled people in those environments. The organisation raises awareness of disabled people’s experiences and the challenges they face living in an able-bodied world.
The NCPPDSA also runs a children’s programme, teaching disabled children how to engage with able-bodied peers; it includes support groups.
With funds raised from initiatives such as the Nappy Run and Casual Day, the NCPPDSA provides assistive devices to more than 700 children each year.
Casual Day raised a record-breaking R22-million this year, benefitting organisations such as the QuadPara Association of South Africa; the National Institute for the Deaf; Autism South Africa; Down Syndrome South Africa; and the National Association for Persons with Cerebral Palsy. Since its inception 18 years ago, the Casual Day project has raised more than R170-million.
The NGO also receives funding from corporates; leading fashion retailer Edcon has signed a three-year contract as principal sponsors aiming to raise R6-million from Casual Day sticker sales at all Edcon stores, and contributing some R11-million over the sponsorship period.
BUILDING EMPLOYMENT SKILLS
“Often we find that the unemployment amongst persons with disabilities is at high level because most of the youth come from a special school system where they were in a very protected environment and they now have to learn how to live amongst others; not to forget that most employers view them as ‘sick’ and therefore they are often left behind,” says Celeste.
The NCPPDSA helps disabled person enter into and succeed in the workplace by assisting with compiling resumes, building interview skills and helping entrepreneurs enter formal work.
They also work with the Association for the Physically Disabled (APD), which helps families tackle the psychological effects of living with disabled people. The organisations have held more than 70 workshops, resulting in some 2 500 disabled people finding jobs.
INCLUDING DISABLED PEOPLE
“We want to have a common dream for everyone to live in a world where people are viewed as just that; people, and not have to treat someone differently because they don’t look a certain way,” says Celeste.
The organisation believes that spreading this inclusive attitude helps people with disabilities be seen as part of society, rather than living on the edge of it, and to date has reached around 57 291 people, 4 900 of which are disabled.
“We would love to make it easier for everyone to enter their places of employment through one entrance and not be separated as that will show a much more inclusive approach and everyone will be able to see each other as one,” says Celeste.
For more information visit the NCPPDSA website.