Foundation steps in to help family

Learning4Life volunteers paint and repair the Van Dyk home in Northpine.

It’s not easy to get around to home maintenance if you are caring for a sick husband, have a young child and a full-time job. Yolanda van Dyk, of Northpine, has exactly this challenge.

Ms Van Dyk’s husband, John, was diagnosed with motor-neuron disease (MND) a few years ago (“Race to raise funds for John,” Northern News, June 24, 2015). The disease put the usually robust rugby player and coach in a wheelchair, and Ms Van Dyk took on all the family responsibilities.

As a result, some things just never got done – like painting and minor repairs.

“We make it one day at a time,” Ms Van Dyk said.

Thankfully, The Umtshayelo Foundation (TUF) stepped into help. Tuf is a volunteer outreach programme based in Brackenfell.

It also runs an aftercare for school children called Learning4Life, which sees the children do community service projects every second Saturday.

“We give our kids the opportunity to experience what it is like to be an adult by exposing them to situations in the community,” Andrew Lamour, Tuf’s founding director, said.

Mr Lamour lives across the road from the Van Dyk family and knows their challenges well.

“I helped wherever I could over the last few years,” he said.

At the beginning of this year, he decided to do more, so Learning4Life took the Van Dyks’ plight on as its first social responsibility project for the year.

A few weeks ago, two volunteers visited the Van Dyks to see what needed to be done.

“They came back with a list of what we needed to do,” Mr Lamour said.

Asidefromgeneral repairs, the main thing that needed doing was painting.

On Saturday February 18, about six of Tuf’s volunteers and 20 aftercare pupils spent the day working their way through the list.

Ms Van Dyk said: “We are so grateful that they are doing this for us. They specifically looked at the things that John would normally have done if he was healthy.”

The added benefit is that the sprucing up has had a good effect on Mr Van Dyk’s health.

An important part of managing his MND was “staying positive”, and the project had helped him do just that, Ms Van Dyk said.

“It’s tough to do everything on your own and this has done wonders.

“The house looks really wonderful and there’s still so much that they want to do. We are so grateful.”