A home away from home

Logwood Village in Muldersdrift has thrived these last few years with residents exploring society and Special Olympic Games, despite South African stigmas on mental health.  

Logwood Village is a residency for intellectually disabled adults, according to their website, with over 20 different diagnoses.  

Logwood Village’s 51 staff workers provide a safe and loving home for all the residents. “The people who work here are experts in their field,” said Wolhuter.  

Families who rely on state facilities for their loved ones only receive sub-standard care, according to an Independent Online article. Every Logwood resident, however, gets state-of-the-art care and living arrangements, Wolhuter said.

Logwood has three types of living. Independent living consists of two to four residents in a home. A care facilitator lives with those in semi-independent living. Those in high-care living receive 24/7 assistance.

“Our philosophy is to bring the world to us,” said the director, “which can be done by giving our residents in-house work opportunities.”   

The Village has three workshops. In the income-producing workshop the residents work on labor-intensive assembly work, which includes packaging, folding serviettes, assembling electrical appliances and electric fence bobbins and attaching medals to lanyards. Sixty women from the Video informal settlement on Elandsdrift Road work alongside these residents in the income-producing workshop, as part of Logwood’s outreach program. Logwood also provides these women with income and basic healthcare.

Logwood is accredited by SMETA (Sedex Members Ethical Trade Audit), said Wolhuter. SMETA is a standard of improving ethical supply-chain practices, according to their website. With this accreditation, the residents can sell their products to Sedex members. A portion of the profits are used for the residents’ families who cannot afford the Logwood fees, said Wolhuter. Currently residents are making squares for Mandela Day blankets.  

Besides work, the residents partake in sport to keep them active, she said. Activities include swimming, horseback riding, golf, yoga, dancing and more. Emmanuel Maqashalala, a resident, said that his favourite activity is soccer and that he practices at four o’ clock almost every day.   

Bocce is another favourite sport amongst the residents. Rosemarie Waidalich plays it often and says that it is one of the few sports that she can participate in. Bocce is an Italian game closely related to bowling, according to the Special Olympics website. The objective is to roll the bocce ball as close to the target ball as possible, said Waidalich.    

Three Logwood Village residents participated in the Special Olympics overseas in swimming, aquatics and golf, said Bonita Bondesio, Logwood sports and activities coordinator, and Andrew White won a gold medal in golf.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver (John F. Kennedy’s sister) founded the Special Olympics in 1968. All the Special Olympics participants are intellectually impaired. The Special Olympics organization thrives on donations and has an office set up in South Africa, explained Bondesio.  

Everyone at Logwood gets the opportunity to participate in sports, said Bondesio. “If you can run 100m in 30 seconds or in eleven seconds, it doesn’t matter, everyone gets an opportunity to participate.”

Opportunities also arise for residents to partake in external activities outside of the Village. Maqashalala celebrated his 21st birthday at Burger King. “We try to make their 21st as special and memorable as possible,” said Lennon Chikumbirike, the Logwood social worker.  

The staff provide the residents with transport to be with their families during the holidays, said Wolhuter. Rosemarie Waidalich sometimes visits her mother’s family in America.      

Community members are also encouraged to volunteer at Logwood, said Wolhuter. “We are very careful when it comes to selecting volunteers as our residents can be quite vulnerable,” said the director. Volunteers are usually parents of the residents and one of them helps with adult education.  

Although selecting volunteers is a tough process, it is also challenging for Logwood to find volunteers in the first place. “When we send requests out to the community, we don’t get much feedback from them,” said Dawn Engelbrecht, Logwood’s administration manager. “Some don’t know much about Logwood and others are discouraged by stigmas.”    

Mental disability stigmas evolve from fear or ignorance and can be combatted through education and increased contact with the mentally impaired, according to a Health24 article.  

Four out of every 100 South Africans have some form of intellectual disability, according to the South African College of Applied Psychology (SACAP). Stigmas arise because people do not understand that people with intellectual disabilities have trouble learning, understanding and processing information, according to SACAP and a Camphill article. It is a permanent condition, not a disease or illness.

Logwood has a quote on one of their workshop windows that reads: “Every day may not be good, but there is something good in every day.” And so, the Village tries to make their residents’ days as joyful as possible.  

“When you get here, it’s a feeling of unconditional love,” said Engelbrecht. “It’s not an institution; it’s a home away from home.”   

For more information contact Logwood at info@logwoodvillage.co.za 

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