Where there’s a wheel there’s a way



June 14, 2016
Where there’s a wheel there’s a way

HARDSHIP: Anie and Willem van Rooyen of Wallacedene. CREDIT: Patrick Louw

Wheelchair-bound mom and son’s life a struggle.

Life is a constant battle for this paraplegic mom and her 47-year-old son.

The two, who are both wheelchair-bound, live in a cold and damp hokkie, which they share with three other relatives.

In 2014, mom Anie van Rooyen, 65, suffered a severe stroke which left her paralysed from the waist down.

Just a year later, her sickly son Willem also suffered a stroke, leaving one hand impaired.

Anie has cared for Willem all of his life because he suffers from epileptic fits.

Christiaan van Rooyen, 42, now takes care of his mom and brother.

Everyday, Christiaan and his brother Ricardo Smit, 36, make a fire outside their tiny home in Wallacedene TRA (Temporary Relocation Area) and place the coals inside their sinkhokkie to keep themselves warm.

He cleans out buckets of human waste several times a day, and when they are due for a hospital visit, he wheels his mom and brother there, and often through the muddy and flooded streets of Wallacede.

Christiaan’s wife passed away four years ago from tuberculosis.

The dad cares for his youngest daughter Christelle, 11, while his 16-year-old daughter is currently in the care of social workers.

“Life is hard for us here, especially because we have two persons in wheelchairs,” he explains.

“It’s even harder because I am alone with them some days and I have to wash and feed them and see that their buckets of poo and urine are cleaned.”

Christiaan says after 14 years of living in the informal settlement, they are desperate.

“We need help here because here are no facilities for the disabled, not even a toilet or ramps.”

Anie is depressed about their circumstances: “Who wants to live like this, there are days when I just lie here crying,” she says sadly.

Community worker Albert Tshabalala, 33, appealed to people to assist the family.

“I think it is time the world knows what is happening and we’re hoping they will get some help.”

If you can assist, please contact Christiaan on 073 285 4237.

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