There is new hope for people with disabilities in Masiphumelele.
Mzingabantu Mjubajuba is a resident of the area who wants to establish what he calls a disability work integration centre, and ward councillor Felicity Purchase supports the idea.
“He is talking to potential sponsors in the valley and it looks like he will get the necessary support. I think it is a worthwhile project and support Eric in his plan,” she said.
Ms Purchase said Mr Mjubajuba wanted to have containers at the back of the Pink House in Masiphumelele.
“This is not City land but an already existing social hub,” she said.
Mr Mjubajuba said his interest in the plight of people with disabilities emerged when he himself was recovering from an operation and could not do manual labour or driving.
“I realised there were a lot of people who can be useful to society but who are falling through the cracks,” he said.
He was surprised to discover that there was little for these people to do and decided to find a way forward for them.
The idea is similar to the way Joyce Chevalier Centre works: people with disabilities will spend the day in the centre contributing to society and having social interaction and upliftment.
“I believe we can use the project as part of the labour market with a view to the social and economic benefit being to the mutual benefit of everyone,” he said.
He has identified a number of possible work opportunities in the surrounding areas – Fish Eagle Park and Heron Park — as well as three major retail centres which he says could provide simple work to the centre.
He is also conscious of ways the centre could help with waste management in the area and is looking at how to include recycling initiatives.
“I want the people who come to this centre to learn new skills, and those who can, must leave with new skills and make way for others to come and learn again. For those who stay, I want to keep them socially engaged and also show others how helpful they are, that everyone has a place and can work and add to society,” he said.
He says the project will run from the Masiphumelele Pink House as it is central and has the community hall, clinic, church, library and primary school around it.
“I am not allowed to build on the land but containers are welcome and are a viable way of tackling the issue,” he said.
He said he has done plenty research on the need for the centre and says he sees it as a tool for breaking the generational curse of poverty, alcohol and drug addiction in his community.
“The ‘eye for an eye’ philosophy in the area has left us all blind and divided. I want the centre to be a revelation of free thinking,” he said.
To help Mr Mjubajuba with funding, sponsorships or containers, contact him on 061 013 2939. He hopes to have the centre up within three months, depending on the level of support he receives.
“I have good ideas but I can’t do it alone,” he said.