Self-Help Centre for Quadriplegics

About Ry-Ma-In…

CONDENSED HISTORY OF RY-MA-IN

In the mid 1970’s, Chantal Fouche, a Springbok trampoline jumper severed her neck vertebra while training and ended up in a wheelchair as a quadriplegic. She soon realised that she could not stay at home with her parents for the rest of her life, no matter how short or long that may have been (life expectancy was 1-5 years in those days).

She found out that the only accommodation available was at old age homes, Tara and other mental institutions. Nothing suitable for a young person who could (and wanted to) use her brain and function as normally as possible. Chantal also wanted to have a say in the way she wanted to run her life. It so happened, that she envisaged a home for quadriplegics, run by quadriplegics.

This however was more difficult than she realised. In order to raise funds, a fund-raising number was required. That was the stumbling block – Government and Welfare could not see the necessity for specialised accommodation for a small group of physically disabled people. Lawyers were called in and eventually in 1975 a fund-raising number was issued in the name “The Quadriplegic Association of South Africa (QASA)”.

Chantal enlisted the help of friends and the congregation of the NG Church in Linden to raise funds for a house. In 1977 the house at 40-5th Street in Linden was purchased with only R5000 in the bank, and on the 27 November 1977, the first 4 residents moved into a “home for quads, run by quads”. The residents called their home “Ry-Ma-In” – the 1st state subsidised quad home in SA. (The USA only in 1988 after Vietnam- they shipped their physically disabled war vets to Mexico!)

It soon became evident that this concept worked well and the demand for accommodation grew rapidly. Due to this demand, residents were required to share a room. This was contrary to the idea of living a normal life as possible and again with the assistance from the NG Church, the adjacent property was bought in 1980 and a total of 8 quads were accommodated at Ry-Ma-In.

Due to continued demand for this type of facility, QASA constituted another branch – The Quadriplegic Association of Northern Transvaal (QANT), while RMI was then constituted under the Quadriplegic Association of Southern Transvaal (QAST). The residents were required to assist with all forms of fund-raising, house keeping, maintenance, transport, staff requirements etc. The residents realised that a steady flow of income was necessary to help support their home and a “Home Industry Shop” was started in 1982 which had to close down years later in 2011 due to financial difficulties.

In 1983 the 1st resident – Tobie Pretorius also became the 1st quad to be gainfully employed in the open labour market. In 1989 RMI again achieved a 1st. We accepted the first person of colour as a resident. Thereafter, we accommodated two disadvantaged quads a year to enable them to attend Access College. This service had to be discontinued due to Access College moving to the east of Johannesburg, causing transport problems for us.

Besides raising funds for daily running and maintenance to houses and vehicles, we are working hard to try to raise funds and alleviate our other household short comings. Today, 35 years down the track, we as residents are proud of the fact that we have never been to the bank to apply for overdraft facilities, and for this we have got to thank our old and new supporters, volunteers, friends and families, for ALWAYS being there when called upon. Without them, RMI and possibly the whole network of self-help centres for quads across the country, would not exist today.

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