‘Manguzi Gijima’ – A fun-filled Fitness Day for Paraplegics

About four years ago, a group of health workers from Manguzi Hospital, north of KwaZulu Natal came together to establish the annual Manguzi Gijima, a health and fitness day with a specific focus on people living with disabilities to encourage physical activity and good nutrition. This year, SANAC partnered with the medics to deliver an exciting event on 6 October.

According to Rael Sanzul, one of the organisers, Manguzi Gijima has been growing from strength to strength.

“As doctors, nurses and physiologists working with the community of Manguzi, we felt we needed something to keep them motivated and fit whilst having fun in the process. Manguzi Gijima gives them just that and it is heart-warming to witness. This an extremely rural community and most of our patients don’t have much to do or look forward to,” said Rael who is a nutrition and dietician at the hospital.

During this year’s event, SANAC came on board to make the event even more memorable for the participants. In previous years, the organisers could not procure certain services due to limited funds. They had been funding the event from their own pockets.

“SANAC’s support was a major gain for Manguzi Gijima. For the first time we were able to feed everyone attending and also book disability-friendly ablution facilities on the day. There was also a heightened focus on HIV testing and other health services in general,” said Rael.

Activities on the day included aerobics, wheelchair races tailored to the ability of participants, buggy, walking and running. About seventy percent of all participants at Manguzi Gijima were people living with disabilities. The organisers said they ensured that all prizes won across the various categories were items that participants will find useful in their homes; such as gardening tools, wheelbarrows and water storage containers.

The day was a fun-filled affair that included entertainment by a Dj and board games.

Maryke Bezuidenhout, one of the organisers, said the highlight for her was when one of the participants who won a prize could not understand why they are being rewarded.

“He was so confused by the prize giving and kept asking ‘but why’…that for me was just priceless. It just goes to show that these guys are committed to their well-being. They would come here to compete even if there is nothing materialistic to gain,” Maryke said.

The SANAC team who attended the event engaged with some of the participants to establish what motivates them to be part of Manguzi Gijima.

Sithembiso Magudulela (42) who was born with cerebral palsy and has been wheelchair-bound all his life, said this event gives him something to look forward to.

“There is nothing for us to do around here. Other events don’t cater for and we always feel left out. Manguzi Gijima makes us feel valued and recognised that we are also normal people who enjoy the same things enjoyed by able-bodied folks in life,” said Sithembiso.

The organisers hope for an even bigger event next year with more sponsors.

 




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