As part of a new blog series, Johnson’s Baby is featuring some amazing moms who are doing extraordinary things and helping children who are less fortunate than them, whether it’s charity work, or community upliftment, or fund-raising.
This month I chatted to Kabi Krige, an expectant mom and occupational therapist, who set up an organisation called Sukumani Dream, which helps kids with disabilities who can’t stand on their own.
Each month, Johnson’s Baby will give a big mom hamper and a kid’s/baby hamper to each woman featured here. If you know of someone who should be featured here, please let me know… you can email me here.
What do you do?
I am a 28-year-old occupational therapist. I work full time for an NPO called Malamulele Onward. This organisation focusses on providing specialised care to children with cerebral palsy in rural areas. We support various hospitals all over the country in different provinces. We focus on training the local therapists, therapy assistants and train mothers to present workshops to other mothers with children with cerebral palsy.
We do outreach visits to these sites and also invite children to attend intensive therapy in Johannesburg. This is where my primary role is in the organisation. I treat the children who are visiting for 2 weeks from the different sites. In this 2-week block the child and mother receives intervention.
The mother is trained on how she can best help her child at home. And also how daily activities can be made easier with handling principles. These two weeks are beneficial for the child, because in the government hospital setting they mostly receive therapy once a month, in two weeks of daily therapy great improvement is seen.
I am married to the best man in the world, Andre. He is an architect, which inspires creativity and technological input. There could not be a more involved, understanding and supportive husband out there. We live in Johannesburg with our two dachshunds; Kai and Lexi and we are awaiting our 5th family member in September.
I enjoy running and cycling, walking the dogs and getting the sewing machine out now and again.
What are six words to describe yourself?
What is Sukumani Dream? When did you start it and why?
Sukumani Dream is a newly founded NPO (2013). Myself, together with 2 therapist friends (Alison Walker and Debbie Creswell) started Sukumani Dream while working together in Nelspruit. Sukuma is the SiSwati word for STAND.
We recognised the need for standing frames, the correct equipment for children who can’t stand on their own, in particular children with cerebral palsy (CP). Most children with CP will never sit, let alone stand or walk. This impacts their joints, muscle length, arousal and digestive functionality.
We started to raise money to make special frames that can help these children stand. The standing frames are made by children attending Kamagugu Inclusive School for children with disabilities (At this stage each frame cost R1 000. R300 per frame was given to the school to help improve their woodwork class).
Since then we have issued 150 frames. We are growing, and hope to eventually supply all hospitals in Mpumalanga and Gauteng and later nationally. We have since added manufacturers and are planning to expand our range to more equipment. Our second manufacturer is Service Products in Selby, Johannesburg. This sheltered employment factory offers employment to people with disabilities who wish to participate in the economy. The third manufacturer is Joel, a gardener who lives in Kabokweni close to Nelspruit. He makes frames on his own in his garage.
Watch the video here for more about the Sukumani:
All three Sukumani Dream members do this in our free time. Alison works for a private practise in Johannesburg and Debbie works at Kamagugu Inclusive School and as mentioned above I work at Malamulele Onward. Raising funds have included competing in well-known sporting events such as Iron Man 70.3 and the 94.7 Cycle Challenge.
Who are your beneficiaries?
Children with cerebral palsy or other gross motor delays at the following Hospitals have received standing frames as per order by the respective Hospitals:
• Kalafong (GP)
• Malamulele Onward (GP, Limpopo, MP)
The following Hospitals received a standing frame which Sukumani has donated to measure children in and use in their department:
• Piet Retief
What kind of stuff do you do each month, and how many people are helping out?
We have a continuous correspondence with the Hospitals throughout the month. Orders are placed and delivery or pick up is arranged at the different manufacturing sites.
All three Sukumani Dream members are involved in marketing and fundraising, in order to produce more frames and get more children standing. Friends and family and supporters on the Sukumani Dream Facebook page help spread the word.
We make monthly updates on our Facebook page with photos of children who receive their frames
We send out update letters to donors to show them the impact they have made in these children and their families lives.
Monthly manufacturing at the different sites (Kamagugu Inclusive School, Service Products and Joel).
We have regular planning meetings to discuss the future of Sukumani Dream and to see how far we can improve the current product and expand the range.
What is the one thing people can do monthly, ad hoc or yearly to help Sukumani Dream?
Sukumani Dream solely survives on donations, so any financial contribution would be greatly appreciated. This will allow us to reach more children and expand our products to greater enrich these children’s lives who we care for so much.
Currently hospitals collect their own frames from one of the manufacturing sites, whichever is closest. On occasion we are required to take the frames to them. Transporting the frames is difficult as we are relying on friends and family for transport. When the hospitals have to collect the frames, they have to travel far, this makes the process of issuing the frames slow and cumbersome. Any help with transport or a vehicle would be amazing!
Donating specific parts of the standing frame, for example: wood, screws, bolts, nuts, wheels, varnish, glue, fabric and sponge. Each frame gets issued with an instruction booklet, we would greatly appreciate financial contributions towards printing costs, which includes our stationary (letterheads/marketing material/etc.)
Spreading the word! The more people know about us the more support we have to make this a success and reach more children.
What makes all the hours and work worthwhile?
A parent’s tears of joy, a child’s lit up face, a disabled body positioned in an upright posture, all these things make it all worthwhile.
To see a mother’s face of a child who has never been able to stand by himself after going in the frame for the first time, that is encouraging. To see a child being able to use both his hands, not needing them to hold on while attempting to play, that is inspirational. To see a child smile as he sees himself standing in the mirror, that is uplifting. Knowing that by providing a safe and functional position for a child, you are preventing future complications and deformities, that is satisfying.
What have been the biggest lessons learnt since starting Sukumani Dream?
• If there is a will there is a way, never give up.
• Support of family and friends can make a huge impact.
• Making connections with other organisations is definitely beneficial for both parties
• Team work gives birth to creative and exciting ideas.
What are your plans for the rest of the year?
We would love to provide all Hospitals in Mpumalanga with one standing frame for free. This is to allow therapists to use the frame in their department during treatment. But also to measure children in, so they can order for the children that can benefit from a standing frame.
When giving the frames to the hospitals, we combine it with a training workshop, to show therapists how to measure and use the standing frames. We hope to make this a regular event.
We would like to expand our product range to benches (used in everyday activities at home or in therapy) and toys (which can be used in the standing frame).
We would also like to branch out to more provinces and hospitals, and get our website up and running.
Sukumani Dream email
Sukumani Dream Facebook
Kabi Krige 083 6295454
Alison Walker 083 4970610
Debbie Cresswell 084 5045475