Johannesburg – An Indian philanthropist will soon extend his benevolence to thousands of South African people living with disabilities by providing free healthcare and education.
Shree Kanubhai Tailor, a renowned philanthropist and disabled people’s activist, was in the country this week to begin talks with the High Commission of India in Pretoria about starting his initiative to benefit disabled minorities.
Tailor, who is disabled and uses a wheelchair, said in its initial stage, the initiative would see about 1 000 South Africans living with disabilities flown to India within 12 months on all-expenses paid for trip, where they would be given all necessary medical and healthcare assistance they require, ranging from operations, prosthetics and wheelchairs – all this would be free of charge.
Tailor said the overall, long-term objective was to establish institutions that catered for the disabled free of charge here in South Africa.
“I would like to establish a solid infrastructure for disabled people in this country who cannot afford healthcare and education. I want to export my successful Indian model to South Africa to help these most vulnerable individuals,” Tailor said, in an exclusive interview with the African News Agency (ANA).
According to StatsSA’s 2014 “Profile of persons with disabilities in South Africa Report”, South Africa has 2.9 million people living with disability.
Asked if they would welcome such an initiative, the Disabled People of South Africa (DPSA) organisation commended Tailor and said it would be “willing to work with him” once his initiative was up and running.
Wilfred Herman, national learnership and international coordinator of DPSA, said though they were not fully aware of the details of the initiative, they were looking forward to hearing more about what Tailor had to offer.
“Yes, we would like to partner with this initiative once it is established,” Herman said.
The Consul General of India in South Africa on Friday said it had not yet been approached by Tailor.
Secretary to Consul General of India in Johannesburg, Savita Garg, said Tailor had not made contact with them and they were not aware of what his plans were in South Africa.
“Shree Kanubhai Tailor so far has not contacted the Consulate,” Garg said.
The High Commissioner of India in Pretoria had not responded by Friday on whether Tailor had approached them or how he would be assisted.
Tailor, who runs a privately-funded hospital, a Grade 1-12 school, and a college in the state of Gujarat in India, this week said South Africa was “close to his heart” and that was why he chose to pilot his project in this country.
“I understand exactly how marginalised disabled people are, and that combined with poverty, limits disabled people from accessing basic needs. Another reason is that my uncle from Mafikeng assisted me with funding to get an education,” Tailor said.
Tailor, who himself is disabled from waist down, has assisted more than 13,000 people living with one form or another of disability to have careers through his Disable Welfare Trust of India, the biggest welfare trust in Asia.