July 15, 2024
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By Tamelyn Bock

On Wednesday, September 21 2022 during Muscular Dystrophy (MD) Awareness Month, the Muscular Dystrophy Foundation of South Africa (MDSA) raised awareness with a presentation onthe foundation, the illness, symptoms and treatments at a Department of Correctional Services (DCS) employee wellness event in Goodwood, Cape Town.

Samantha Muller (42), a social worker at MDSA told ThisAbility that it was a “fruitful” event. “Approximately 50 individuals attended and about 20 attendees approached me afterwards and commended me for such an informative presentation.She added that the audience felt informed about what to do if one suspected being affected directly or indirectly by this neuro-muscular disorder.

Samantha Muller giving the awareness presentation

“Awareness promotion is an important aspect of the foundation’s work,” said Muller, who is also diagnosed with this rare sickness, after realising that the audience were unfamiliar with the topic. According to the organisation’s brochure, “MD is a disorder that affects the muscles, resulting in progressive wasting and weakness of the muscles. There is no cure for the disease, but symptoms can be managed with medications and therapy.

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Loretta Duma (44), an assistant director at DCS told ThisAbility that awareness of this condition is important. “I think such a topic is forbidden, because society at large thinks it is like a death sentence to see someone deteriorating.

Samantha Muller and Ms Matya from MDSA posing with Lorreta Duma (centre)

She said they would include the foundation in all future wellness events, as awareness events serve as a platform to engage with stakeholders such as employee unions and offender advocacy groups.

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The MDSA Cape branch has been in operation for 26 years under the management of Win van der Berg who told ThisAbility that she started the NGO after her grandson was diagnosed with Duchenne type muscle dystrophy and doctors were unable to help him.

Samantha Muller and Ms Matya from MDSA with DCS employees

Van der Berg then mobilised mothers whose children had the same condition, and we got the Cape branch going.

Determined to get better support to affected families, “I started making motorised wheelchairs available with funds from Harley Davidson, a motorcycle manufacturing company in Cape Town,” she told ThisAbility.

After supplying wheelchairs, the NGO added other devices that supported independence and assisted caregivers. The department of social development is the foundation’s main funder,according to Van der Berg.

For more information on MDSA or MD contact the Cape Branch on 021 592 7306 or email: cape@mdsa.org.za

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