Social Engineering

Hangberg, Hout Bay, 2011

Social engineering is commonly understood as the art of manipulating people into  divulging confidential information.Within the South African context, social engineering is simply what Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao and Hitler did best, and the Apartheid-regime probably just about second best: destroying the lives and dignity of millions of people, distributing human rights according to skin color.

Apartheid also systematically and explicitly denied the human rights of people with mental retardation, mental illness or physical disability. Racially segregated hospitals housed tens of thousands of people, and the facilities for the black majority received only a third of the funds available to whites. Children with disabilities were either separated from their families at a very young age (in urban areas) or left without treatment or education in the homelands. This has led to communities that regard persons with disabilities as either a burden or a nuisance, many families today still hiding their children out of shame and fear of disrespect.

In the past, most service organisations  have focused on providing services to white people with disabilities. Although they have extended their services to black and coloured people in the post-apartheid years, many have not developed cultural and language-sensitive services and their offices are still predominantly situated in former white suburbs that are not accessible by public transport. Their services often focus on handouts rather than empowerment, and there is a tendency to focus on menial tasks and unprofitable activities such as basket-weaving or crocheting doilies  for black disabled workers (often with no remuneration), and clerical work for white disabled workers (seldom without remuneration). Newer service organizations in predominantly black or coloured communities face severe financial challenges, as they need to literally build their operations from scratch, not disposing of the infrastructure that established organizations possess.

Bethesda Hout Bay APD is making a difference.

Bethesda Hout Bay APD is a registered non-profit welfare organization, branch of the Western Cape Association for Persons with Disabilities,  caring for persons with disabilities in Hout Bay and surrounding areas. The main service at present is a protective workshop that operates at the Hangberg Community Hall.  Currently, I am trying to support the organization in coping with three major challenges:

  • developing the organizational  structure to meet current and future needs of persons with disabilities;
  • setting the organization on a sound financial basis that can cover all recurring costs;
  • finding and financing the housing required.

    Hangberg, Hout Bay, 2011

Today, we are more than a mile away from reaching our goals. The current rooms at the Community Hall are not sufficient and do not meet the needs of persons with disabilities; for many potential clients, they are not even accessible. The organization depends on donations to take the big step of purchasing a house in order to meet these needs and to expand the services to all disabled persons in the Hout Bay area. Currently, we are working on a leaflet, a website and project descriptions for donors. And, we will try to raise awareness  and support in the local communities, starting a campaign in a few months. My personal aim is to coach the organization in reaching its goals on its own, and setting a best-practice example for other APD branches. And of course, I enjoy working with Priscilla, Delia, Nora, Graham and all other motivated committee members, staff and volunteers – providing me with new insights every day.

If you wish to make a donation – here are the banking details:

Bethesda Hout Bay

Standard Bank of South Africa

Constantia, branch code: 02 5309

Account no. 071723617

SWIFT: SBZAZAJJ

Thank you – Dankie – Ndiyabulela!

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