HPCA gives 67 minutes to people living with intellectual disabilities

The Hospice Palliative Care Association (HPCA) based in Pinelands, Cape Town embraced the opportunity to celebrate Nelson Mandela International Day by giving 67 minutes of their time and service to improve the lives of others at Includid, an NGO for people living with intellectual disabilities.

A cold and windy morning with up to 100% rain never stopped HPCA staff from giving of their time to celebrate Nelson Mandela Day.Despite the weather conditions, staff were determined to carry on the legacy Nelson Mandela left after he spent 67 years of his life fighting for humanity.

As I arrived to the the gates of Included around 08:50am, a man peaked out of a wendy house and instructed me to stop.He grabbed his clipboard and started walking slowly around my car.He then tapped onto my window with his hand and as the window opened, I saw the most welcoming smile: ” Good morning sir, I’m Alvin Fortuin and I am the security guard.Welcome to Includid and I hope you have a wonderful visit” he said. Immediately I felt welcomed and while driving off, he continued to wave.

By this time the rain hasn’t stopped and we quickly made our way to the closest room to get shelter where a group of ladies were quietly working.As we were waiting for the co-ordinator to arrive, a lady who was busy sewing in the corner of the room saw us and immediately jumped up,ran towards us, stretched out her hand and said in a stuttering voice:” hello..I’m Benita and who are you?”. She then saw the camera I was holding and grabbed my hand with a firm grip and said :” Take a photo of me – I want to smile”. As I was attaching the lens, Benita was already smiling, ready for the shot to be taken.She wanted to see the picture and when she saw it, she pointed to it and said :” that’s me, that’s Benita”.Her friends saw her excitement and all of them wanted to be part of it.

Tracy Morris, Project co-ordinator welcomed us and gave us a short tour of the various projects and the homes which accommodates up to 70 permanent residents. She explained that most residents have an intellectual disability and 90% of them don’t have any family.This means that they don’t receive any visitations. Despite the small grant they receive, they really struggle financially to not only maintain the buildings but also to provide for these residents.The projects which are currently being “runned” by these residents are not only to assist with their sustainability but also to enhance their skills,There are currently four different projects:

1. Sewing project – which consist of making woolen apparel such as beanies, scarfs, woolen socks etc.

2. Gardening project – which consist of growing their own fruit and vegetables to assist with sustainability.

3. Lavender Project – residents pick lavender from their gardens, dry them and fill them in a bag. This gives off a nice fragrance.

4. Cutting Project – pieces of paper are cut into fine strips to add to lavender bags.

After visiting each project, HPCA staff were then given the opportunity to engage with these various projects by allowing the residents to teach them and to also get to know them a little more.” People living with disabilities can do anything that normal abled people can do. When I planned this event, I wanted us ( abled people) to realise that we too can learn from them and that they not restricted as people tend to think”, said Eric Watlington, Communications Officer, HPCA.

I was very encouraged & proud of my colleagues who really made every effort to spend time with these residents. The saddest part was leaving in the end ( as our 67 minutes turned into 113 minutes) but as the saying goes ” all good things must come to an end”. Each resident received a goodie bag which included socks, toothbrush, soap and a facecloth. Sandwiches and juice was provided afterwards thanks to the wonderful support of Ana De Sousa and her team of ABSA bank in Pinelands.

If you would like to learn more about Includid, visit their website www.includid.org