IKHWEZI LOKUSA REHABILITATION AND DEVELOPMENT SOCIETY
Ikhwezi Lokusa began on 28 September 1958 when Hildegard Schmidt, the district surgeon of Mthatha, brought a severely disabled cerebral palsied child to the Missionary Sisters of the Precious Blood at Glen Avent Convent in Mthatha with the request that the child be looked after. His mother was at that time not able to care for him owing to some challenges. As soon as the child was accepted, more children were brought and a special school developed. Soon a need for further development of a Rehabilitation and Sheltered Employment programme for those learners who had reached the age limit of schooling, or were unable to continue schooling owing to academic limitations, was identified. It was out of these humble beginnings that Ikhwezi Lokusa Rehabilitation and Development Society developed in 1972.
The Society offers skills training in sewing, leatherwork, pottery and arts and craft. The main aim of the Society is to empower physically and/ or mildly mentally disabled people to be as independent as their disability allows them to be. It promotes the quality of life, the dignity of personhood and independent functioning in the community for as long as it is possible. Presently there are approximately 64 beneficiaries.
From the time the Society was founded, 848 beneficiaries (persons with disabilities) have been trained in various skills such as dressmaking, pottery, leatherwork, arts and craft and knitting. Most of those trained have been able to use those skills to develop themselves and to grow economically. For example some are employed within government departments to teach skills, some have started their own businesses which today are a source of employment for other beneficiaries. Furthermore we have seen trainees acquiring self confidence and self esteem due to rehabilitation and emotional support provided at the Society.
The Society has also made it possible to start an Association for Persons with disabilities which played a big role in the development of special schools in the former Transkei. Again it was instrumental in the formation of a Cheshire Home in the former Transkei which resulted in the development of two Cheshire Homes (Camama and Mt. Fletcher). It still monitors the two homes providing coaching and mentorship. The Society has also made it possible for persons with disabilities to access institutions of higher learning through the after school care program.
To achieve most of the aims and the objectives of the Society, the Society would need resources either in monetary or material form. The funding would be crucial in the skills development programme, mobility and physical independence, provision of support for income generating projects by the beneficiaries.