Recently Taniya Saffy, a South African guest who stayed with us, was deeply moved by Smiling, our charming barman’s story of the work he is doing within his own community to help assist those who are often unable to help themselves.
Through a running challenge that Taniya is undertaking, she will be raising funds to help purchase wheelchairs for disabled members of Smiling’s community. We are so touched by her generosity and deep desire to make a difference, along with other incredible sponsors, that we have decided to share her amazing story.
This is Taniya Saffy’s story in her own words:
‘During my recent holiday to Tanda Tula I came across an amazing person called Smiling. What made him so incredibly special was the story he shared with me. He told me about a paraplegic guest who had visited the lodge and who had inspired him to give hope, dignity and opportunity to people with similar disabilities in his local community.
Smiling noticed how his guest, despite the challenges of not being able to use his arms, was extremely self-sufficient and independent. He was taken aback by how someone with a disability of this nature could utilise appropriate equipment and support to live a fully functional normal life. This got him thinking about the people in his village of Hluvukani.
Hluvukani is a Tsonga speaking village in the Limpopo province, it is near the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and adjacent to the Kruger National Park.
Hluvukani has a population of approximately 10,000 people and Smiling wondered if there were any individuals in this area who shared the same debilitating challenges as his guest. He wondered if, and how, they were overcoming them in order to live a happy, functional and dignified lifestyle.
What he found shocked and disturbed him. There were paraplegics in his village who were struggling to manage at all and the challenges they faced prevented them from living any sort of normal life. Some just never left their houses because they were too ashamed and others, if they did leave their homes, were pushed around in wheelbarrows.
Smiling saw that they were struggling without the help of wheelchairs and saw that this basic piece of equipment would make a massive impact in their lives. This inspired him to try and get sponsors for wheelchairs through his existing non-profit organisation, Kunavelela. He managed to raise enough funds through donations from Tanda Tula, and through donations from Tanda Tula guests, to purchase a few wheelchairs, which he was then able to distribute among various paraplegic members of his village.
After hearing Smiling’s story and his unselfish call to action, I was inspired to try and help him and the people of Hluvukani. So, I decided to run a challenge in the month of February 2021 to help raise funds to buy wheelchairs
I am going to run a minimum of 100km in the month of February and am hoping to get enough sponsorship in order to buy at least 10 wheelchairs. I will be documenting my journey and that of all those who choose to “run for those who can’t” challenge along with me.’ You can follow Taniya Saffy’s progress on the Instagram handle @runforthosewhocant_sa