The history of the Ulwazi Project
The Ulwazi Project was founded in 1997 to cater for the needs of the severely disabled young adults for whom no facilities for social and work opportunities exist. It was established by a group of parents of quadriplegic disabled school leavers together with staff members of Eros School for the Cerebral Palsied Children at Athlone.
Project leader Evelyn Koopman, whose daughter Loreen is a beneficiary member of the group, says they realized that there was nothing for their children after they had finished school at either the Eros or Paarl School in Brackenfell and The Ulwazi Project was borne out of their need to keep the children occupied. Some of them then discovered talents that they were never even aware of. Until recently, people with severe physical disabilities were often relegated to a life at home or in institutions where they are unable to participate in economic, community or cultural activities and, for this reason, the Ulwazi Project aims to fulfil in these needs.
Beneficiary clients and staff
Currently the Ulwazi Project has a complement of fifteen adults but enquiries regarding enrolment are regularly received from others needing the same services. Due to the severity of their disabilities, clients require maximum assistance for feeding, toilet and other activities at all times. Evelyn Koopman is a Recipient of the Cape Town Mayor’s Extraordinary Woman of the Year Award 2005. She is the live-wire and driving force of the Ulwazi Project and she is ably assisted by a manager and three aides.
Our activities are labour intensive and sometimes require expensive materials or the adaptation or purchase of certain equipment to assist our members perform their tasks and crafts. It certainly can be appreciated that the maintenance of such a project is very expensive. Presently the centre has a complement of between ten and eighteen young adults but enquiries regarding enrolment are received regularly from interested persons. Due to the severity of physical challenged, our members need maximum assistance in areas of feeding, toileting and other activities of daily living.
The centre serves clients primarily from all areas and they, and their families, are very involved in the activities of the centre. Most are, however, unable to make any significant financial contributions. Fundraising is undertaken , but amounts raised are insufficient to guarantee the viability of the centre. Finding funds for salaries for our dedicated team members and for specialists needed from time to time is a particular problem.