Masoyi is a rural community twenty kilometres north east of White River in the province of Mpumalanga. It comprises four villages totaling approximately 20 000 inhabitants.
When Lucy Ngobeni was employed by the Provincial Government as a “Health Promoter”, tasked with educating rural people on basic health matters, in the course of her work she became aware of the desperate circumstances of people in the community suffering at home with AIDS, Cancer, TB and various other debilitating illnesses. In addition, a spiralling number of AIDS orphans was identified. On a purely voluntary basis Lucy formed an organisation named “Masoyi Home Based Care”.
As founder of this organisation Lucy recruited unemployed people from the community and trained them to go into the homes of sufferers and orphans, and assist in basic household tasks such as bathing the ill and their children, cleaning, cooking, collecting water and firewood, washing clothes etc.
It soon became apparent that there were many families in rural communities with disabled children, so Lucy then turned her attention to this issue. She identified 156 mentally and physically disabled children in the area.
In African culture there is traditionally a stigma attached to having a “disabled” child. It is common for parents to hide the disabled children away from the community. In nearly all cases the father abandons the family. Either the mother is unable to work because of the burden of caring for the child, or, as sometimes happens, she locks the child up while she goes out to work. In one such case Lucy discovered a 12-year-old girl in the back room of a shack. The child was deaf and dumb and had spent her entire life in the room.
Parents qualify for a meagre Government pension; however, the practicalities and logistics of collecting this from a central payout point often prove overwhelming. Access to most homes is by foot only.
The children need constant supervision, but the mothers, who are often ostracised by the community, are unable to seek any form of assistance. Without access to even the most basic needs, health, education, stimulation, therapy and other developmental requirements are not addressed. Although the provision of facilities to assist such people may be seen as the responsibility of the Government, funds are simply not available.
In 2001, Lucy approached the White River Rotary Club for assistance to achieve her dream of a care centre for the disabled in Masoyi. The club originally assisted with a Christmas party at a community hall in Masoyi. Parents were invited to bring their disabled children out into the open and the community was encouraged to accept and become involved with them. The gathering received unprecedented support from a 700 strong crowd, the health services and informal supplementary services. Ambulances, usually in extremely short supply, ferried children unable to walk. Vehicles of all descriptions including commercial taxis supported them. Many children simply arrived on their mothers’ backs, having in many cases been carried several kilometres.
The local chief provided the rights to use a piece of land under his jurisdiction. Two unsuccessful boreholes were drilled on the property, but the chief once again came to the rescue by allowing a borehole to be drilled on his property next door, which yields 2000 litres per hour. Over the next 18 months, an engineer-designed brick-clad, steel structure under roof, 180 square metres in extent, was built, with the support of many benefactors, including Nomads and a Rotary International grant.
Making a Difference
The Masoyi Special Care Centre continues to do great work under trying circumstances and with limited funding. They cater for up to 60 children per day. They survive on donations and social grants from the Government, which are unreliable and insufficient, and the generosity of individual donors. They are also grateful for the support of a group of cyclists who ride the Argus Cape Cycle Tour in support of Masoyi. The income generated by the Argus cyclists has funded the purchase of educational toys and therapeutic equipment, and a water harvesting project involving guttering and water tanks.
There are nine care-givers, who are either voluntary or who get a modest stipend every month.
In 2012 a group of students from around the world on a Round Square tour spent two weeks at Masoyi building a classroom, in collaboration with the White River Rotary Club. This serves as a learning and skills training centre for those children who are educable, who develop a huge sense of pride and accomplishment at being able to read, write and learn a skill. The classroom is also used after hours as a community centre. See a video on this Round Square/ Masoyi project on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiEPRTnidjY&fmt=37
Round Square and Rotary will embark once again on a joint project this year when an overseas team of students will build a new toilet and a first aid room/sick bay.
To see more Information on the Masoyi Project you can find it on the Rotary website:
Our to find out more information on Masoyi and how to donate you can contact Liz Mackintosh – firstname.lastname@example.org
VERONICA RORICH – RIDE FOR MASOYI
A group of enthusiastic White River cyclists dig into their saddlebags to share some of the pleasure they get out of their favourite pastime with The Masoyi Day Care Group.
Veronica Rorich explained to We Are White River how this came about. “We are not a cycle club, just an ordinary bunch of people that like to cycle the Cape Town Cycle Tour (formerly known as the Argus). This is the third year that we are riding for Masoyi. We began as a group of 25, then 50 and now we have filled a group of 75 riders.”
Veronica’s daughter, Michelle, was very involved in community service at school and she persuaded her mum to form their own group to ride in support of a local charity. Everyone who rides donates R250 to the charity over and above the entry fee. The donation this year was R20000.
The group is made up of people of all ages and different cycling strength, who all love to be out on their bikes. Most are from White River and Nelspruit, but this year they have been joined by cyclists from Cape Town and Johannesburg.
Masoyi has spent the money raised by Veronica’s cycling group on equipment for exercise, helped a little girl with her prosthesis and bought some educational toys. This year their priority is to install gutters and water tanks to ensure a constant supply of water.
We Are White River is exceedingly proud of this locally inspired group of caring cyclists.
For more details contact: Veronica Rorich email@example.com
The Cape Town Cycle Tour is owned and staged by the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust and it is the largest, timed cycling event in the world. It celebrates its 38th year in 2015 when, on the morning of Saturday, 8 March, 35 000 cyclists will line up to ride the 109km route through some of the world’s most spectacular scenery that includes the iconic Table Mountain as a backdrop. The tour’s main beneficiaries are the Pedal Power Association (PPA) and Rotary Club of Claremont, which are equal stakeholders in the Cape Town Cycle Tour Trust.