Change is a difficult thing. It always has been and undoubtedly will remain so. While the world changes and adapts around us, it is easy to be disheartened in the Disability Sector. With our sector comparatively slower evolution than others, we must be all the more vigilant of our achievements, lest we fall into a trap of inactivity and inefficiency.
As an organisation rapidly approaching 40, we can say with certainty that we have been watching the social landscape evolve and have been at the forefront of seismic shifts in attitudes towards race, gender, sexuality, and especially disability. In a world rapidly becoming more connected and accessible (in every sense of the word), you’d be forgiven for thinking that the dark days of institutionalising and stigmatising disability were part of an antiquated era centuries into its extinction. It was less than four-decades ago. Yes, while it’s nowhere near perfect today, it’s unrecognisable from our early days. While we’re not the first or last organisation of our kind, we can hold our heads high as having made a tangible, positive impact on our society today. But what about recently? What metamorphoses has IPDM undergone in recent months? We’ve continued working towards our goal despite a few changes in personnel and a few leaps forward with key institutions.
Rustim Ariefdien, long-time Board Member and invaluable asset to us, has had to step down from the Board. Another Board Member, Chad Lintnaar, (elected for the first time during the 2018 AGM) has also had to step away. I’m grateful for their service but understand that they have commitments elsewhere and I fully support them. Also, while I must thank DWDE for their assistance with the coordinator’s functions, we’ve heard that they have to pull back on that help. Saadiqah Barends, a Board Member, has graciously offered to fulfil the coordinator’s role until we can find a suitable long-term solution.
Recent events may have led to IPDM having to say goodbye to some of its assets but it’s not all doom and gloom. Although he is no longer able to assist on the Board, Rustim will continue to provide his expertise to us and fight alongside us. I hope that the additional pressure put on Saadiqah, too, was short-lived as we were able to recruit a new coordinator at the beginning of this July.
The Department of Social Development, as I’m sure you know, have been a considerable source of funding for the organisation. As part of the agreement with have with them, we have to provide various reports on our operations. These reports are usually laborious, unpleasant things to handle. Thanks to the dedication, perfectionism, and efficiency of our administrative staff, we were able to submit the report to the Department months ahead of the deadline. I know that completing that report on time can sometimes feel like an achievement in its own right. To have been able to finish it with months to spare is phenomenal and commendable. I’m confident that their work ethic and the quality of what they produce will go a long way to forging continued, mutually beneficial networks. I must take a moment to especially thank them for their tireless, excellent service.
Having seen the wonderful advances we have made both recently and in the long-run, I’m convinced we’re doing something right. Further, I know I can say with confidence that I—along with the rest of the organisation—will be all the more committed to IPDM’s mission. I know that we will keep going no matter the challenges we will face down the line.