On 28 July 2015, The Muscular Dystophy Research Foundation (MDRF) donated an electric wheelchair to a Sparrow Combined School learner, Philile Shweni. Shweni was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy at an early age and has had to depend on a wheelchair to get around. According to Wikipedia, Muscular Dystrophy is a condition that causes one’s muscles gradually to weaken over time. In South Africa, the condition affects 1:1 200 people.
The MDRF visited the Sparrow Combined School in Sophia Town to do the official hand over. “We are very fortunate as human beings, some of us are very fortunate to be able to use our hands and arms. One of our learners, Philile, who also happens to be one of our best learners, finds it difficult to do most tasks because of his condition,” said the Combined School Principal, Mark Cloete. He further adds, “On behalf of Sparrow, we would like to thank the MDRF for this kind gesture.”
The MDRF was represented by General Manager, Pieter Joubert,who is also affected by MD. He was accompanied by Occupational Therapist, Erica Gerthsen and Fundraiser, Braam Roux. “There are 1200 people in South Africa affected by this condition. We at MDRF understand what Philile and others are going through and that is why we go out of our way to land a helping hand. We understand that not everyone can afford these wheelchairs as they are very expensive,” Joubert explains.
Philile’s sister, Phumla Shweni, was also there to witness the handover and was evidently overwhelmed with joy; you could sense the relief in her voice as she spoke. “I’m so grateful and happy for him, it has been very difficult for us at home because he could not do most things on his own. The wheelchair is definitely going to help us and him,” Phumla said.
According to WEB MD, there is still no cure for any form of Muscular Distrophy, but medications and therapy can slow the course of the disease. There are currently research projects that are working on a cure for the disease. The Department of Health has dedicated the month of September to raising awareness around the disease. Wear a lime green ribbon to show your support.