How it all started

When physiotherapist Andreas W├Ârster paid his first visit to a YMCA in South Africa in 1990, he soon realised just how severely the lack of medical facilities, allied with misconceived cultural traditions, was impacting disabled people in particular. The idea that a disability is a curse remains a popular misconception, while aids like wheelchairs and walking frames are scarce.

After working for a youth organisation in Soweto for a couple of weeks on a voluntary basis, the 25-year-old reached a decision: he would stay and he would help. His overarching goal was inclusivity.

In other words, rather than continuing to exist on the fringes of society, affected persons should be at the heart of their communities and families, leading autonomous and independent lives.

After six years as a senior physiotherapist in Soweto and Mthatha, he teamed up with friends to transform the YMCA into an organisation that supports disabled people in rural districts of South Africa and runs a residential home for 18 young adults with and without disabilities in Mthatha.