Wheelchair makes life easier for mom and daughter

City speaker Felicity Purchase with Ethel Tshandu and Akha, 9.

Ethel Tshandu, of Red Hill, is thrilled after her 9-year-old daughter, Akha, received a wheelchair, following a public appeal.

Akha has cerebral palsy, a disorder that affects a person’s ability to move and maintain balance and posture, and her mother had to physically carry her wherever she needed to be.

“It was very difficult to carry her because she is heavy now that she is not a baby anymore,” Ms Tshandu said.

Kobus Luyt, of Fish Hoek, heard about the family’s request on a neighbourhood WhatsApp group and contacted Felicity Purchase, the speaker of the Cape Town city council, for help after reading a City media release on social media about a handover of Taiwanese medical equipment.

“I know Alderman Purchase as someone who gets things done; that’s why I contacted her directly,” said Mr Luyt. “She got in touch with the family, and within a week, she had personally delivered the wheelchair and helped the mom in getting the girl comfortable in the chair.”

Ms Purchase said: “Due to a long-standing and cherished partnership between the office of the speaker and the Cape Town Taipei liaison office, donations of much-needed wheelchairs and other medical equipment are made to the City of Cape Town.

“Typically, all donated equipment – such as wheelchairs, walkers and commodes – is kept and stored by the City’s councillor support department. Members of the public may write to their ward councillor or sub-council to petition for the needed equipment on their behalf. A written letter of motivation must also be provided by the applicant. The request will then be considered according to the applicant’s needs and the availability of equipment on hand. My office has followed this process.”

After receiving the wheelchair, Ms Tshandu said struggling parents shouldn’t give up.

“I feel so happy and grateful. I appreciate the support I received for my daughter, it made me feel as if I’m not raising my lovely daughter alone because it’s not easy raising a child with special needs.”