Mthimkulu Stimulation Centre for disabled children in Soweto, South Africa

Our beginnings

In 1990 Sam and Leah Kunene had a little girl, Miriam, their third child. Although she was born mentally disabled, the Kunenes did everything possible to provide Miriam with the same opportunities they had provided for their other children, Siza and Jabu. This became increasingly difficult as they realised that there just weren’t suitable, or affordable, facilities for the disabled in the Soweto area. Through their search they met a number of families in similar circumstances.

Photo: left to right: Joanna, Miriam, Leah, Jabu, Siza

According to statistics gathered in the 2001 census, the majority of persons with disabilities living in Johannesburg live in Soweto and its surrounds. To compound this, there are very few supporting facilities for persons with disabilities and the available public transport facilities don’t accommodate the disabled. In addition, the poverty and unemployment levels are higher in Regions 6 and 10 (Soweto), which accordingly affect those who are disabled (Whitehead 2004:21).

The Kunenes decided to be part of the solution: Leah trained as a stimulation therapist and with the assistance of friends she and her husband established the Mthimkhulu Stimulation Centre for Disabled Children.

Reference: Whitehead, M. (June 2004) PERSONS WITH DISABILITY: Study Commissioned by the Corporate Planning Unit of the City of Joburg as a Component of the Human Development Agenda.