Chairman of LITTLE EDEN, Doug Boake, not only participated himself in our Wheelchair challenge – he also encouraged six other members of staff at Boake Incorporated to join in. Afterwards he wrote:
“When we built our offices in Bedfordview 12 years ago, we thought we had complied with all the laid-down regulations concerning handicap persons – designated parking, a separate toilet with the special features.
But it stopped there. We never thought of adequate spacing between the desks in an open office area for an occupant in a wheelchair to manoeuvre around with ease. The second floor was out of bounds because of the twists in the staircase. Another thing our high marble reception counter was very unfriendly and the internal standard sized glass doors (always closed for security reasons) made access well-nigh impossible for somebody in a wheel chair.
So it was a sobering time to reflect on the daily challenges faced by residents of Little Eden many who spend their entire day in a wheelchair, play our part to spread the awareness about disability in the office and make a donation which was made easier by the special tax concession. How we all like to legitimately pay less tax!
We had the wheelchair for two days and six staff members volunteered to sit in the wheelchair for a few hours on each day. They admitted it was an eye opener and quite an experience to adapt to working on their computers, accessing files, just moving around in limited space to liaise with the partners and to work with other staff in the office. But they did abandon the wheelchair to go outside for a smoke break. They felt they earned it!
Unfortunately, the partners of the firm were simply too busy and stressed in their work to give it a try. So it was left to me to carry the flag on day two. Frankly I forgot I had to sit in the wheelchair all the time for the true experience. I jumped out of the wheelchair to go downstairs when I needed something urgently or to see a client. I admit I didn’t try the toilet in a wheelchair because when you have to go you have to go. I wasn’t sure how I would cope.
Over the years it has been heart-warming and inspiring for me to personally witness how determined and resourceful handicap men, women and children raise up to meet the challenges – notwithstanding the hardships to lead ordinary lives like you and me. I salute the likes of Ian Jardine the blind runner of yesteryear, the swimmers in the Midmar Mile with missing limbs and the walker on crutches who started the Comrades Marathon twelve hours before the official start to finish before the final gun was fired.
It is true that the late Nelson Mandela said to Domitilla and Danny Hyams, when he paid a surprise visit to Little Eden, “you are the people that will change South Africa”.
Yes we have a lot to be thankful for.
Thank you residents, staff, volunteers, overseas students, and missionary sisters from India for being a beacon of hope in the world around us.
Chairman of Little Eden
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