Gift of wheels – from Silverstar to Yamkela (13) with love.
Silverstar Casino staff brought the month of love to a joyful end with the handover of a custom-built wheelchair for 13-year-old Yamkela Luphepha from Zandspruit, who has cerebral palsy and has spent most of his young life lying down or being carried. The project was a collaboration with the Sweethearts
Foundation, which works with corporates, schools, and volunteers, collecting bottle tops and bread tags for recycling in exchange for wheelchairs for people who cannot afford them.
At the handover ceremony at Silverstar on 28 February, Yamkela in his wheelchair and his mother Xoliswa were escorted down the passage lined with staff members to thank the staff for their efforts and to show off Yamkela’s brand new ‘wheels’.
The Foundation, which believes that “a wheelchair is a basic human right”, has collected and recycled over 43 tons of bottle tops, close on six tons of bread tags, and donated almost 300 wheelchairs since 2013.
Yamkela, who lives with his mother and two sisters, aged 26 and four, has been in desperate need of a wheelchair – for mobility and also to enable him to sit up and be comfortable. Xoliswa is thrilled with the life-changing gift of a wheelchair, which, she says, “will allow me more freedom and to take Yamkela to places that I never could before. Thank you to all the employees at Silverstar for caring and for making this happen.”
Adele Wilson, Silverstar CSI Manager, explains the process, “In June 2017, each department at Silverstar was issued with large bins to fill with bottle tops, which were regularly emptied and weighed. With every 450kg collected, Sweethearts Foundation will donate a wheelchair to a beneficiary of our choice, which in the case of Yamkela, was guided by a staff member who lives in Zandspruit and is passionate about serving the disabled in her community.”
The Silverstar CSI team met with Yamkela and Xoliswa and took them for an assessment to customise his wheelchair for his condition and for easier mobility in the informal settlement. The value of the wheelchair is R7,531.
Wilson adds, “The bottle tops and bread tags project initiated by Sweethearts Foundation both reduces the amount of plastic that ends up in our landfills and provides mobility for people who would otherwise not have any. I am very proud of the Silverstar staff and what a difference we have collectively been able to make to Yamkela and Xoliswa’s lives. Bottle top collection has become second nature to us and will continue unabated.”