On the night of Tuesday 20th July 2020, two employees from Shonaquip, a social enterprise based in Cape Town, had to run to safety and abandon their outreach services vehicle to run to safety due to the ongoing protest action in Khayelitsha, the vehicle was later found destroyed.
Established in 1992 by Shona McDonald, Shonaquip Social Enterprise is the first woman-run wheelchair business of its kind in Africa.
The organisation was established as a social enterprise to provide appropriately fitted wheelchairs for children and adults, capacity-building for local wheelchair practitioners, together with empowerment and advocacy programs that impact over 350,000 people with disabilities and their families every year.
The not for profit organisation also has 30% inclusion across their team, providing meaningful work to individuals with mobility, hearing, learning and mental health disabilities.
Improving lives through mobility
Currently, Children in South Africa wait approximately 2-3 years for a wheelchair, this will soon increase as the department of health redirects funding to COVID-19 programs.
As the only local supplier of paediatric posture support wheelchairs for children in Africa, Shonaquip, provides hundreds of children who are unable to access government services, particularly during the lockdown, with the wheelchairs they desperately need to improve their lives.
“Children with disabilities and their families are some of the most vulnerable groups in South Africa, health needs exacerbated by poverty and poor access to livelihood opportunities mean that many families end up marginalized and isolated. One of the only ways to reach these families is for our team to travel to their homes in communities that are often prone to unrest and violence.” – says Maria Britz, Seating Practitioner
Without a vehicle, the organization will be unable to provide home-based services for children who are vulnerable to COVID-19 and therefore cannot travel. Shonaquip will also be restricted in delivering wheelchairs to government hospitals, clinics and centers across the Western Cape as well as the Northern Cape.
Crowdfunding on BackaBuddy
With the devastating impact of Covid-19, Shonaquip’s sustainability has been tremendously affected with many funders themselves downsizing, affecting their work in low-income communities.
To cover the cost of a reliable second-hand vehicle, similar to the one they have lost, estimated to cost R350 000, the organization has launched a crowdfunding campaign on BackaBuddy to appeal to the public for support.
The initiative was launched on 24 July and has thus far raised a total of R245 248.16 towards their fundraising target.
“There are almost 500,000 children in South Africa who need wheelchairs (most of whom do not have one). Without a vehicle our ability to deliver vitally needed paediatric wheelchairs and services to hospitals, centres and clinics across the province will be seriously impacted. There are many elements of community based work that are challenging beyond measure – but we remain inspired by the families and communities that are working so hard to ensure that inclusion happens.” – says Sarah Driver-Jowitt