Earlier this month, two caregivers of children with physical disabilities were provided with the opportunity to share their experiences with Mr Mphumzi Xonxa who is the Ward 2 Councillor from Makana Municipality, representatives from APD (Association for Person’s with Physical Disabilities) and researchers from the Psychology Department. The presentation was a culmination of a photovoice participatory action research project conducted by Lulu Ndlovu (registered for a Masters in Counselling Psychology). This project saw 6 caregivers of children with physical disabilities living in Joza sharing their experiences with one another by taking pictures representative of their experiences and talking about them with one another. Sharing their stories resulted in identifying common experiences, which were then presented by Busisiwe Norongo and Nomfundo Mbaliso in the Psychology Department. The presentation was very moving and gave the audience key insights into the joys and challenges experienced by the caregivers as well as clearly identified needs including assistive devices, educational opportunities, financial and emotional support. The presence of Mr Xonxa in the meeting was significant as he was able to share on the spot contact details of the person in the Mayor’s office who is in charge of the special unit that deals with matters involving people with disabilities. He also offered some suggestions concerning the challenges experienced by APD when attempting to access community facilities in order to offer services to the caregivers and their children.
This was an anxiety-provoking but empowering experience for the caregivers who have never been afforded an opportunity to share narratives about their lived experiences in this manner and to such an audience. The group later spent time chatting and having light snacks which were organized by Prof Lisa Saville-Young who is the supervisor of the project.