LC 6 & RT 63 Side-By-Side Support

A year ago, Ladies Circle No 6 and Round Table No 63, identified a desperate need, a Mom, and her son. An Article was placed in the local Newspaper, whereby this mom was desperately reaching out to the community for help.

Original article (29 June 2019):

A Benoni mother has made a desperate appeal for help to improve the conditions in which she and her disabled son (32) currently live.

Lynne Cooks explained that her son, Jamie, was diagnosed with Friedreich ataxia when he was 15. This is a genetic condition that affects the nervous system and causes movement problems. Most people with the disorder begin to experience the signs and symptoms between the ages of five and 15 People with Friedreich ataxia develop impaired muscle coordination (ataxia) that worsens over time, as Jamie has experienced,” Lynne said. “Doctors said he would not live to be 20, but he is 32 years old already, which is a miracle for us.”

Describing their dire situation, Lynne said she knows what it is to be homeless; she lived on the streets for four years. Jamie was then in a care home and it was a bungled inheritance after her mom died that set the pair on a path to extreme poverty and homelessness. “We lived in Durban when my mom died and after I received no money from my mom’s estate, I lived on the streets,” said Lynne.

“We moved to Rynfield in December 2017 after Jamie had to leave the care home he was in, in Kempton Park. We were told the home was closing. “Through word of mouth and help from members of our church and friends we managed to move onto the property we now stay on now.

Lynne and Jamie’s current homes.

“I only have a Standard Eight and the only work I have been able to get is occasional ironing jobs. “We both make little crafts if we have materials, which I then try to sell too. “While Lynne is extremely grateful they have a roof over their heads, their living conditions have her concerned for her son’s health.

At first, Lynne and Jamie lived together in a disused aviary, boarded up with planks and other materials to turn it into some form of a home. Jamie receives a SASSA grant of R 1400 a month, Lynne managed to save up R 1000 to eventually buy a second-hand wooden Wendy house, which he now lives in.  Lynn still stays in the disused aviary, which serves as her bedroom and the kitchen.

“I’ve done my best to patch all the holes and board up the roof to protect us from the cold, but it is still extremely cold,” said Lynne. They have limited access to electricity at night (which they must pay for) and get water and use a toilet at the home of tenants in a house next door.

Cooking on an open fire in the yard, is the only means Lynne has of making food.

The SASSA grant money only lasts the pair until around the 15th of the month, leaving them without any food at times for the rest of the month. Lynne said that while she is extremely grateful to the family on whose property they stay and for the fact that they both have a roof over their heads, their current living conditions are not good for Jamie’s health or suitable for a disabled person.

“It is a tremendous struggle for me to lift him and sometimes I’ve had to run to the road and find whoever I can, to help me pick him up,” Lynne said. “I am his caregiver 24 hours a day, which makes it difficult for me to go out and look for work; I cannot leave him alone and obviously we cannot afford to get anyone else to care for him. Life at the moment, Lynne said, is hard enough for her as an able-bodied person, so she can only imagine the struggle it is for Jamie.

A rusting motorised wheelchair stands in the yard. Lynne said someone stole the batteries and charger, but if it could be fixed it would be much better than the wheelchair Jamie is using at the moment.

“Jamie also desperately needs glasses, as the condition affects not only speech and hearing, but also eyesight; he is battling to see,” Lynne pointed out.

The pair’s most pressing needs are for a new wheelchair for Jamie, food (non-perishable), hot water bottles, toiletries, and blankets.

Lynne added that a gas burner on which to cook would make a world of difference too.

End of the article.

The ladies at Edenvale No 6, got involved immediately after reading the heart wrenching article. We arranged a visit to Jamie and Lynne to better understand their needs and see how we can be of assistance to them.

We adopted this family, and over the past year, assisted them with most of their needs.

The ladies took Jamie to the optometrist, to have a band new pair of glasses custom made for him, He was extremely excited that he was able to read again, and see the birds playing in the sun. Lynne was able to prepare meals for them, with the 2-plate stove and constant groceries provided for them by the circle.

We donated a sewing machine and all the sewing equipment needed, for Lynne to make a few items of clothing, in which she sold for a small income.

Last week Thursday (25th June 2020) Jamie and Lynne embarked on a new journey, Jamie has finally been placed in a new home at Kairos House – Rayton in Cullinan, where he will receive the proper medical care, Lynne will continue to be his part time caregiver. We went to wish them farewell on Thursday, and Jamie’s last words to us were “Please come and visit, and bring some of those yummy flapjacks you always make” We will certainly miss them, but the ladies will be planning a road trip to visit the family.

[Article by:  Donne Ambartzakis]