Cape Town – After losing the use of his limbs 14 years ago, Brenton Swartz could have given up on life.
He was shot, leaving him paralysed from the neck down. But the quadriplegic, who studied architecture at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology, refused to let life get him down.
Swartz is now an accomplished mouth artist, and used his skill of painting with his mouth to inspire severely disabled children in light of Disability Awareness Month, next month.
“Art is my job but also my hobby. It is something that I love personally and it relaxes my mind, and also gives me a sense of freedom.
“It takes you away from problems and what is nice about it is that you enjoy the moment. I would also add that, fortunately for me, it is also a means of income. This has meant a lot for me.”
Swartz and fellow artist Martin Sodoms were invited by the Western Cape Department of Social Development to the Sibongile Day and Night Care Centre in Khayelitsha to launch the awareness drive.
Social Development MEC Albert Fritz said: “The purpose of this day is to appreciate the work of the caregivers.
“We also want to give a bit of spirit with Christmas coming up. We have prepared some party packs for the kids.
“We have heard some sad stories in Khayelitsha before about disabled children. Specifically looking at the ratio of caregivers to children, it cannot be 8:1.
“We are going to halve it, and we will find money to do so,” he said.
The centre’s founder, Nomasango Xabanisa said: “We are very happy about this day, and by the visit from the MEC, as this makes him see how we work with the children every day.
“One of the main challenges we face is the shortage of staff, and also being unable to support our current staff members financially. Another challenge we face is transport for the children. Looking at the centre today impresses me because I have seen progress over the years.”