By Siphokazi Zama
The Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities (APD) is providing disabled people in Grahamstown with much needed support. The APD is a national organisation that has provincial branches all over the country. The provincial branch in the Eastern Cape only opened in 2009, but there are already four branches that help both members of the disabled community and the community in general. According to Agata Runowicz one of the leading members of the APD, the organisation mainly does social work. That is they focus on issues awareness and promotion. They help educate disabled people about their rights, help get them access to disability grants and most importantly, help empower them in any way they can. The mindset the organisation aims to change is that disabled people cannot do anything.
“So many disabled people describe themselves as crippled but we want to get them past that. We want to them to know that getting treatment and getting your disability grant is just a start, there is so much more you can do.”
To help them do this, APD works with various organisations in Grahamstown such as the Department of Health, the Department of Social Development, FAMSA, Child Welfare and Grahamstown Parents Network and the Psychology Department at Rhodes University.
For example, they have training in Dimbaza and the Department of Social Development has training for woodwork, for printing, for sewing so people can start small businesses and the Grahamstown Parents Network help provide transport when needed.
When not working with the disabled community, the organisation also has support groups that help people deal with amputations and stroke victims. Such support groups are valuable both to the people who have had strokes or amputations, but also to their families or care-givers.
“These support groups are very important because not only do they give people a chance to talk to somebody who can relate to what they are going through, but we can also see who needs support. For example, as the APD, we can lend the families some equipment while they are waiting for theirs” said Runowicz.