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 

Mud isn’t just for pigs

About 300 people enjoyed a day of fun completing a doggy obstacle course with their canines at a Muddy Puppy event at The Wedge Outdoor Park in Muldersdrift on the 31st of March.

Oneplan Pet Insurance hosts the Muddy Puppy, which is usually a 4 km fun run or walk offering loads of hindrances and many mud baths, according to their website. The pet insurance company was originally involved in obstacle racing for humans when they opened a training centre at a dog-friendly place, said Lesley Delport, owner of the Muddy Puppy. “We were setting up one day and we happened to see some woman going over an obstacle with her dog. So we decided to combine the two.”

And that is how the Muddy Puppy was born.        

This was the first time that Oneplan held the event at The Wedge, said Delport. The five-hour long affair started at 7 am, when people arrived with their pets. “We can have up to 600 dogs at an event in the morning,” Delport said. Dog-lovers pay a R160 entrance fee, while their dogs get to tag along for free, according to an ad on the Muddy Puppy website. A lot of regulars showed up to support, Delport said.

“I didn’t really expect to see so many people,” said Warrick Ward, owner of The Wedge. “It was actually a pleasant surprise. A lot of guys came out to have a look at it.”

He said he was also quite surprised that the dogs were so well-behaved and that no fights broke out.

“We’ve actually been very lucky,” said Delport. “We’ve had scuffles at the most.”

The organization created a color-coding system to keep the dogs from barring their teeth at each other. If a dog is temperamental or unsocial, they wear a red or yellow bandanna around their neck and all the other owners know to keep their pets at a safe distance, she said. “People respect that.” 

Search and Rescue participants were also at the event to ensure the safety of individuals as well as Man’s Best Friends. “We work with many guide dog associations,” said Delport.

The Muddy Puppy supports a different charity for each event, she said. These charities include SA Basset Adoptions, Cause 4 Paws, Wollies Animal Project, Yorkie Rescue South Africa and many more, according to their webpage.  

The dog charities are usually in charge of washing the dogs after the race and they charge R30 per canine, Delport said, with all the proceeds from the dog baths going to the chosen charities.

The charity supported at The Wedge was The Society for Animals in Distress, which is the single-largest professional welfare veterinary care provider in South Africa, according to their website. A percentage of the day’s profit also went to this charity. Each time someone entered the race, they indirectly helped save a domestic animal from a needy community.  

The race consisted of a 2 km walking trail with some mud slides, a muddy dam, a slip-and-slide and small obstacles for the dogs to jump over or crawl through. The dogs could also get splashed with colorful powders.

“I’ve never done anything like this with the dogs before and I didn’t know how they were going to react,” said Anna Huysamen, a participant.   

Her dogs refused to go over some of the obstacles, Huysamen said. They sometimes crawled underneath instead of jumping over, she said.

Onlookers could hear the chants of many owners encouraging their dogs to jump over hindrances, while their pets ignored them and maneuvered around the obstacles.

“My favorite part was when we had to walk through the muddy water,” Huysamen said. “I fell into the mud a few times, but I still had a great time. I know my dogs enjoyed it as much as I did.”

Every time dogs finished the race, they received medals and had their pictures taken.

“All in all, it was a very successful day,” said Ward, adding that he hopes to accommodate the Muddy Puppy again when it returns in the summer months. He also said he plans to have a better trail that stretches onto the rest of the property. Some of the participants had to complete the course three or four times, he said. “Next time we’ll have one trail where some can run 2 km and others can track over 5 or 6 km down one trail.”

There are no upcoming events planned, according to the Oneplan website. The Muddy Puppy is held about seven or eight times during the summer months, because of the mud obstacles, said Delport. They also host in Durban and Cape Town. For more information contact the Muddy Puppy coordinators at info@muddypuppy.co.za .    

The commemoration of a hero

Scout members gathered at the scouts’ grounds in Florida on the 23rd of February to celebrate their founder’s 162nd birthday.  

Lord Robert Baden-Powell founded scouting in 1907 with the vision of creating a better world, according to the scouts’ website. South Africa’s scouts became multi-raced in 1977 and multi-gendered in 2000.

Scouts is a worldwide movement with the primary aim of contributing to the development of children and young adults to help them reach their full potential, according to the SCOUTS South Africa webpage. “Scouts strive to make a better generation of youth,” said Dr. Brendan Hausberger, the chief scout of South Africa.  

SCOUTS South Africa was one of the first scouting organizations in the world, said Dr. Hausberger. Scouts is registered in 165 countries, with many more applying for membership, he said. “These potential scout countries still need to meet the human rights regulations and requirements that are aligned with the ethos of scouting.” 

Scouts partake in many activities from camping to community service, said Joshua Kretzschmar, the Rover Chairperson of the Viking Scouts Crew, who joined scouts in 2007. “I am part of the Sea Scouts,” the dedicated chairperson said, “and we learn to paddle a canoe, sail dinghies and even yachts across the oceans.” Some of the scouts recently sky dived and jumped out of a plane five times, said Kretzschmar. “I never thought that I would do something like that.”

National and international scouting events take place in this organization, said Kretzschmar. “The international Jamborees occur every four years where about 40 000 scouts from around the world meet and have fun for ten days.”

Every year scouts all over the world commemorate Baden-Powell’s legacy on the weekend closest to his birthday (the 22nd of February), said Dr. Hausberger. This event is called the BP Weekend or Thinking Day. This day is used to remind the scouts of the promise that they have made to serve their community, their God and themselves, according to an article on their webpage.

The promise includes the action of community service, the chief scout explained. It also includes building school libraries, refurbishing Early Childhood Development (ECD) centers, building stairways in public places, having adventures in parks, or even just picking up rubbish on the side of the road.

Recognition was given to the achievements of scouts and cubs (younger scouts) on Saturday, said Hausberger. “My Viking Crew received a silver badge of achievement,” said Kretzschmar. Acknowledgements and awards were also given to non-scout members (volunteers), he said, to thank them for their help in piloting and testing a new scout program.

Scouts created the new program for five- and six- year-olds, who will be known as the meercats, said Hausberger, and who will also learn to commemorate the scouts’ founder each year.

The comradery and fellowship of the Scout Movement are what makes scouting so memorable, said Kretzschmar. “As well as seeing how scouts change into young leaders and the good that scouting provides the world, and it’s all thanks to Robert Baden-Powell.’  

If one is interested in scouting, they must simply visit the SCOUTS South Africa website www.scouts.org.za/  which gives instructions on how to become a scout or volunteer. The website also shows where scouting grounds are located in all nine provinces.

Trespassing and housebreaking: all part of the daily routine

Thieves broke into a local Muldersdrift bar, at The Wedge Outdoor Park, on the 21st of February, leaving the owner baffled, furious, and skeptical about South Africa’s current laws and crime rates. 

The Wedge Outdoor Park is a fully-licensed restaurant and pub with a golf driving range as well as 4x4 and airsoft activities. An intruder (or intruders) broke into the pub during the early hours of the morning and stole numerous items. The perpetrator (or perpetrators) lifted the electric fence with cutting pliers and a slim tree branch to get to the bar.  

The bar’s first alarm went off at 11:53 pm and again at 12:50 am, said Foster Mwale, the manager and barman who resides on the property. Security and Manpower Solutions (SMS security) arrived on both occasions but reported that everything was as usual. It was only with the morning sun that the crime was revealed.  

“At first, I thought they might have gotten in through the roof, but then I saw that the window was broken and the burglar proofing vandalized,” Mwale said. Both entrance and exit were made through that window. The Wedge contacted the police, and two police officers arrived. The police could not deliver a comment to the media but did mention that there are about eight to ten break-ins in that area daily.   

This is the furthest anyone has ever trespassed onto The Wedge’s grounds, said Warrick Ward, the owner of The Wedge. “There have been many attempts to get onto our property, but this was the first time that anyone has succeeded,” he said. Not only did the thieves trespass, but they also took part in housebreaking when they forced their way into the bar. Housebreaking consists of unlawfully and intentionally breaking into and entering a building or structure with the intention of committing a crime in it, according to a dissertation written by Richard Mkhize.  

The thieves stole a plentiful supply of liquor, cigarettes and a 55-inch TV, said the manager, which leads him to believe that there was more than one perpetrator. Strangely enough, the first-aid box was lying open on the floor, probably to see if there was anything of value in there, he said, and the cash register was emptied out.

“I’ve learned from past experience to leave the cash register open when the bar is closed,” Mwale explained. “At my previous work they broke in and struggled to open the till to retrieve the money, so they just took the entire thing with them. At least this way, the till is not damaged, and we don’t have to buy a new one.”  

“The current condition of South Africa is negatively affecting businesses like The Wedge,” Ward said, “and people are closing their pubs due to the crumbling economy. Crime is out of control; the criminals do the what, the where, and the why, when and however they want to.”

The previous night someone stole a strip of The Wedge’s Eskom cable, the owner said, so the business had to use backup batteries and generators. The theft was done on purpose to get onto the property and into the clubhouse (where the bar and restaurant are), said the owner. 

Without electricity, the alarms’ batteries ran low, rendering the CCTV cameras useless, said Ward. “Our security systems and guard (with his panic button) are not enough, but I can’t afford an armed guard that operates 24/7. I’ve done pretty much all I can do,” he said.

The property must be safe if the place expects to host more functions in the future, Ward said. In March the Muddy Puppies (an obstacle course for you and your dog) will join them, he said, and in the past The Wedge also hosted the Beast challenge (similar to the Warrior or Iron Man Challenges).

Ward grew up on the property and has worked diligently to provide Muldersdrift with such functions to bring members of this community together.

“You’re trying to make a living,” he said, “You catch the guy that committed a crime on your premises. They lock him up and he’s out on bail the next day. Most of the time you can’t even shoot at someone who’s trespassing on your property, because according to law they might have a valid reason for being there, even if it is in the middle of the night.”

So, he said, if you hear a knock at your door late at night, is it a friend coming to visit or is it a foe breaking it down?

One cannot use excessive force to remove a trespasser, according to the SA Law Handbook. Ward said that if he is threatened and he has the chance, then he’ll do what he needs to do.

According to SA Law, the best course of action is to call the police and later sue the trespasser for any damage caused.    

“A great deal of confusion continues to surround this area of the law because of different interpretations by different authors in criminal law,” states the case report pertaining to The State vs. Othniel Sello Maieane in 2008. In South Africa there is no offence called ‘trespass.’ The offence is contravening section 1 of the Trespass Act 6 of 1959. The case report reads that proof is needed beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused entered the premises without permission of the owner or occupant, with the intention of remaining on the premises.

“Hopefully things will turn around, because I’m getting really annoyed,” said Ward. “What’s the point of carrying on?”

The window that the perpetrator (or perpetrators) broke to get into the building:

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