This Sunday’s episode of the Play Your Part TV series features ordinary South Afrians who are inspiring others by Playing their Part in ensuring the health and well-being of our country. They include Ridwaan Mia and David Grier, the Reach for a Dream Foundation, Professor Ken Boffard, Emily Mabasa and David Ross.
Dr Mia has been part of Ride for Smiles, where he took part in the 94.7 Cycle Challenge to raise funds as well as awareness for the Smile Foundation, a South African NGO that assists children with any type of facial abnormality, to receive free corrective Plastic and Reconstructive surgery within South Africa. Based at seven academic hospitals across the country, they help children who suffer from treatable facial deformities such as Cleft Lip and Palate, burn victims, Moebius syndrome (facial paralysis) and other conditions.
“Our Chief Patron Nelson Mandela’s wish is for us to assist as many children around South Africa as possible,” the foundation says.
David Grier established the Cipla Miles for Smiles Foundation to raise funds through adventure racing for Operation Smile South Africa, who perform corrective surgery on children born with cleft lips and palates. To date David has run The Great wall of China – 4 200km in 93 days, Run the entire coastline of South Africa – 3 300 km in 80 days, paddled from Africa to Madagascar – 500km in 12 days, run the Island of Madagascar South to north – 2 700km in 67 days, and run the entire length of India 4 008 km in 93 days.
The inspiration to start the Reach For A Dream Foundation came from an article on the Make-A-Wish Foundation, based in America. Owen Parnell, past Randburg Rotary Club President, was struck by the opportunity to establish a similar venture in South Africa. Officially named the Reach For A Dream Foundation in 1991, the organisation defined its core purpose as “fulfilling the dreams of children of any race, colour and creed between the ages of 3 and 18 faced with a life-threatening illness.”
For 25 years the Reach For A Dream Foundation, has brought hope, joy and healing to countless South African children. These children between the ages of 3 and 18 years have used their dreams to fight life-threatening illnesses such as cancer and leukaemia, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, renal failure and various blood disorders.
South African X-ray system manufacturer Lodox Systems is making its mark on the international medical scene with a low radiation dose X-ray system that takes a full-body scan in just 13 seconds.
Lodox’s critical imaging technology was first developed for use in South Africa’s diamond mines to prevent smuggling in the 1980s and ’90s. The requirements for a machine of this calibre were the ability to scan the whole body, a resolution good enough to detect at least one carat or a fifth of a gram of diamonds, a speed quick enough to process large numbers of people – and the lowest possible X-ray dose for safety.
A team of engineers from mining company De Beers’ research laboratories developed the scanner and, when they realised the instrument’s potential, established Lodox Systems to adapt and develop the technology for medical use. “After some experience it was found that the Lodox full-body X-ray scanner was also ideal for use by forensic pathologists, as it assisted them in getting an accurate full body overview of injuries and foreign bodies quickly,” the company says.
Emily Mabasa describes herself as “physically challenged, not disabled”. She has overcome the difficulties that she has to face on a daily basis and has involved herself in numerous charity organisations.
“I don’t like the word disabled, because I looked it up in the dictionary and disabled means that you cannot do anything. But I can do anything I set my mind on; as long as I am determined. I might be physically challenged, but god has given e a strong mind that I can use to be creative and in my creative way I can help others,” she says.
She has gained recognition for her work, having won Bronze, Silver and Gold at the President’s Award for Youth Empowerment, which helps young South Africans realise their potential through developing their self-esteem, to become active citizens involved in improving their communities.