South Africa: The collaboration between the South African Air Force and Old Mutual saw two members of Air Force Base Bloemspruit being gifted with new wheelchairs on 05 October 2023 at a ceremony that was attended by Director Helicopter Systems, Brigadier General Isaac Moreetsi and the Senior Chief Warrant Officer Klaas Mofomme from the SA Air Force Headquarters in Pretoria.
The project was initiated by the Senior Chief Warrant Officer of the South African Air Force, Senior Chief Warrant Officer Mofomme partnered with Old Mutual, to donate two wheelchairs to Flight Sergeant Zondane Magazi and Flight Sergeant Abel Selahle.
The Area Manager of Old Mutual facilitated the handing over in the Free State Province, Mr Aubrey Machaka. “It is not about sales, but about the impact we are making on the people, no matter how small it may be, it will definitely change the life of the beneficiaries,” he said in his address.
Brigadier General Moreetsi, expressed great appreciation on behalf of the Chief of the South African Air Force saying that, “living with disability shouldn’t keep
anyone from living their best life. Today is a testament that there is always something to smile about. Although living with a disability comes with its own challenges, the South African Air Force together with Old Mutual understands that people with disabilities just want to be seen as people, understanding that they are just differently abled.
They are fathers, uncles, sisters and even mothers. We see the people, not the disability, that is why we foster meaningful, authentic inclusion. Education and awareness remain the start of everything good.”
The Officer Commanding Air Force Base Bloemspruit, Colonel Abel Naik thanked Senior Chief Warrant Officer Mofomme for going beyond the call of duty to mobilize donors to donate wheelchairs. “This initiative shows the commitment of the SA Air Force to work tirelessly, in the spirit of partnership and collaboration with various
companies to improve the livelihoods of the citizens. Sometimes all it takes is one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.” Flight Sergeant Abel Selahle says that it was hard having to adjust to a new identity as many people look at those in a wheelchair as extremely fragile.
“we are not fragile, we are confident about who we are and most of the limits our disabled community faces have been manufactured and perpetuated by stigmas and stereotypes that have no basis. Individuals living with a disability can do most things they did before their injuries and be like anyone if offered the correct support, representation and inclusion. I do not let fear stop me from things I used to enjoy before, whenever I have a chance to speak to people who are living with disabilities, I first acknowledge that everyone’s process is different and people also adapt differently.”
Flight Sergeant Zondane Magazi mentioned that every day is a learning curve and everyone goes at it at their own pace. “Carrying on without support can lead to feeling isolated and misunderstood, especially if the life-changing experience comes instantly. Some grieve their former lives while trying to establish a new normal for themselves and their loved ones and dealing with pains and other health complications that can tax the body heavily.
Being in this organisation helps because, with gestures like these, we can have a positive outlook on life with the help of sponsors. It becomes easy to shake off any negative thought and we wake up grateful to come and still serve. We no longer look at things we cannot do, we look at these wheelchairs as blessings that give us strength and confidence that we otherwise wouldn’t have.”