Archive for April, 2011|Monthly archive page

Epilepsy SA Newsletter – April 2011

In Uncategorized on April 15, 2011 at 11:40 am

FROM THE DESK OF THE NATIONAL DIRECTOR April is a month with many special days and public holidays:

22 April 2011 – Good Friday

25 April 2011 – Family Day

27 April 2011 – Freedom Day

As South Africans we have a lot to be thankful for, but unfortunately there are still battles to be won, especially the fight against discrimination towards people with disabilities. It is my hope that you will especially think of people with epilepsy on Family Day and Freedom Day, in a hope that people with epilepsy will be fully included in society.

In this month’s newsletter, you will read about the progress that has been made in the organisation in respect of economic development, youth and human rights. We also included many articles of gratitude toward funders supporting our programmes across South Africa. Lastly, you will find an article in our Epilepsy Facts corner warning all people with epilepsy to take care with any additional supplements or medication taken. Again, I would like to invite all our readers to become more involved in our organisation and our programmes. Write to us, visit us, send us your opinions and comments. It was exactly such a comment received, which lead to us adding in the Epilepsy Facts corner in this newsletter. This is proof that we do appreciate and recognise all comments received.

May you have a blessed April month!

Noëline de Goede

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ENTREPRENEURSHIP EXPO FOR PEOPLE WITH DISABILITIESIn celebration of the human rights of people with disabilities, the Small Enterprise Development Agency (SEDA) contracted the National Office of Epilepsy South Africa to host an entrepreneurship expo. The Expo took place in Cape Town on 22 March and aimed to raise awareness about entrepreneurship as a career option for people with disabilities. Exhibitors included the National Department of Trade & Industry, small enterprise development agencies, sector education and training authorities, training providers and entrepreneurs with disabilities.

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The month of March is derived from the first month of the ancient Roman calendar Martius, named after Mars, the Roman god of War – and how very appropriate: This month we celebrated International Women’s Day on the 8th, as well as the South African Human Rights day on the 21st. We celebrated the rights of all people, but especially the more marginalised groups. We remembered the war or struggles that people had to endure before the eventual establishment of equality and acceptance. We celebrated basic human rights, the right to inclusion, the right to have proper access to health care and education, the right to freedom and security of person, of privacy – the right to life! We also reminded ourselves that in many instances, the war on equality, inclusion, acceptance and basic rights are still hard fought. National Office is definitely marching on in the fight against the discrimination of people with epilepsy and other disabilities. We will continue the war to eradicate the stigma surrounding the condition and apply our weapons to the acceptance and inclusion of people with epilepsy and other disabilities into mainstream society.

The Troops

Although a small staff complement at National Office, we are a dynamic and driven team with strong motivation to accomplish our goals, but we need help. Battle’s aren’t fought and won by only a handful of people. One needs generals, strategists, cavalry, ground troops, artillery and sea and air support – a whole complement of people coming together to add skills, experience and knowledge in order to become victorious. Our appeal is therefore that regardless of who you are or where you come from, there might be something that you can do to help fight for the rights of people with epilepsy and other disabilities. Please join our forces as volunteer by contacting me at National Office on (021) 595-4900 or via e-mail at fundraising.no@epilepsy.org.za . You can make all the difference in the result of this fundamental effort. Become one of our troops!

At the recent NASA (Neurological Association of Southern Africa) congress in Durban, Cipla Medpro came forward with a remarkable addition to our forces with a contribution of R20,000. We thank Cipla not only for this contribution, but for their continuous support and assistance – for being our Cavalry in this noble battle.

The Weaponry

A good strategist will tell you that rather than loads of weapons, you need only a few of the correct weapons to defeat a specific enemy. Our enemies are ignorance, discrimination, stigma, exclusion and we have decided on our strategy and campaign to combat these: We call it the Building True Potential Campaign http://www.epilepsy.org.za/nationaloffice/fundraising/index.php with its five Walls of True Potential as its foundation and support.

The Wall of Acceptance http://www.epilepsy.org.za/nationaloffice/fundraising/wall_of_acceptance.php– to attack discrimination and ignorance with proper education about the condition and the rights of people with epilepsy and other disabilities.

The Wall of Opportunities http://www.epilepsy.org.za/nationaloffice/fundraising/wall_of_opportunities.php– to defend our services, our weapons, in a financially sustainable way so that we can respond immediately and can continue to address the needs of our clients.

The Wall of Health and Wellbeing http://www.epilepsy.org.za/nationaloffice/fundraising/wall_of_wellbeing.php– to defend our clients against the above enemies and ensure optimal psycho-social functioning of those living with epilepsy and disability.

The Wall of Empowerment http://www.epilepsy.org.za/nationaloffice/fundraising/wall_of_empowerment.php– to armor our clients for the attacks from society and outfit them with the correct weapons for their battles by providing life- and skills training, training in entrepreneurship and opportunities for income generation.

The Wall of Good Governance and Excellence http://www.epilepsy.org.za/nationaloffice/fundraising/wall_of_excellence.php– to strengthen and grow our forces with continuous assessment, improvement and development so that we are always equipped with the right weapons to continue the march…

Join the Battle

All you need to do to join this important battle is to decide which Wall of the Building True Potential Campaign http://www.epilepsy.org.za/nationaloffice/fundraising/index.php you want to support. These Walls form the foundation of the campaign and we need you to help us to build them into strong forces of attack and defence. We have everything ready, the weaponry and the defences. All we need now is for you to add your bricks to these Walls of True Potential. Click on the wall of your choice and follow the easy steps to make sure that the battle continues, and that once and for all, we will all be conquerors in this vital cause.

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NEW HYDROPONICS TUNNEL FOR THE GAUTENG BRANCHThe new hydroponics tunnel, sponsored by the DG Murray Trust, at the Geduld residential care centre in Springs has yielded its first tomato harvest. The crop is exceptional and is being sold at the Springs market as well as the local mini market. The centre is also supplying our Daggafontein centre’s kitchen with fresh tomatoes daily and selling directly to the public at R7.00 per kilogram.

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A NEW WORKSHOP IN SPRINGS Work on the new East Rand Protective workshop at the Geduld centre (sponsored by the National Lottery Distribution Trust Fund) is progressing on schedule with the roof recently being completed. Centre Manager Juanita de Canha reports that the building will be completed within the next four weeks.

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NOSA DONATES OVERALLS NOSA CEO, Gary Streek and Client Liaison officer, Evadné du Preez presented Magdaleen Kruger (Director of the Gauteng Branch) with 100 overalls on 3 March 2011. The overalls will be used by employees in the East Rand Protective workshop.

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Three representatives from Casual Day visited the Daggafontein residential care centre in Springs on 30 March 2011 to take photographs and write an article on improvements made to the centre with funds generated via the organisation’s participation in the annual Casual Day fundraising campaign.

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15 young people with epilepsy are eagerly looking forward to attending an all expenses paid Youth Camp from 6 to 9 April 2011. The camp was sponsored by the Murray & Roberts Letsema Sizwe Fund and will be held at Stable Inn Conference Centre. Five Epilepsy SA staff members will act as facilitators at the camp.

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The Western Cape Branch ran a Human Rights and Disability Poster Campaign from 18 to 25 March 2011. A week was dedicated to raising awareness about disability and human rights to link up with the celebration of Human Rights Day on 21 March. As part of our awareness raising activities, the social workers endeavored to create knowledge and understanding about human rights and disability through talks at our protective workshops, projects, Community Health Centres, Government Departments, Libraries and Schools. In addition to increasing awareness and understanding, three schools (specifically the Grade 5 learners) were invited to campaign with us through illustrating their understanding of disability and human rights in poster form. We are excited to see the outcomes of the posters when school commences for the second term.

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Thank you for your support!

Today is the end of yet another financial year. It is not easy for a welfare organization to get through a financial year without the loyal support of businesses and individuals. Some of our supporters are so regular that they are friends. With the support, we were able to provide the following services.

• Community Development in rural communities

• Home Based Care to bedridden community members • Mental Health services

• Education and advocacy to companies, schools and individuals

• Residential Care to Adults with epilepsy and or other disabilities

• Developed our staff to provide and improve service delivery

• Food security to community members

• Victim empowerment

• Entrepreneur development

• Day Care to community members of Tumahole, Parys, Mokwallo and Vredefort.

THANK YOU! We are joyfully shouting, as it is all of you that made our hands strong in the work we are doing. We are always looking for new partners that can help us to help others, cherish the partners we have and be loyal to our clients. If you want to become involved or need to make contact with us, please call Tertius Meyer on (056) 811-5959 or email freestate@epilepsy.org.za.

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THANK YOU SAB! The Free State & North West Branch cares for 84 adults with epilepsy and/or other disabilities at our residential care facility. We take pride in protecting the human dignity of our clients by always making sure that the facilities are clean, safe and attractive. At present, our facilities are in need of a fresh coat of paint.

Thanks to SAB in the Vaal Triangle, two of the flats that needed the most attention were renovated, thus providing better living conditions to our residents. The flats now took like a home you can be proud of.

On the Photo is Alta Cronje (Financial and Centre Manager) and Wilhelm Lategan (SAB) in front of a completed flat.

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A NEW ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT PARTNER IN VRYBURG A new project will be rolled out on 1 April 2011 to help people with disabilities to earn an income. This would not have been possible without the funding partnership with ABSA in the North West Province.

Beneficiaries of this project will be manufacturing uniforms for school children in the community at an affordable price. The community is very happy about this project and cannot wait for production to start. ABSA gave the project a financial injection of R50,000 as start-up capital. With this money we will surely make a difference in the lives of our beneficiaries.

On the Photo: the North West team of ABSA can be seen presenting the cheque of R50,000 to Goodwill Phajane of the Epilepsy South Africa Office in Vryburg

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Epilepsy Facts Corner


Article sourced from the March 2011 Epilepsy.com Spotlight Newsletter)

One of the most commonly encountered consultations in my office has to do with individuals who have had a new single isolated seizure or those who have a history of well controlled epilepsy who have suddenly had a recurrence. One of the biggest culprits for why seizures may present or recur, includes the possibility that an individual has ingested a medication, whether over the counter or prescribed, that may had increased the risk towards seizures.

These may include innocuous pills that one is accustomed to taking for pain relief or it could be illicit. Even some herbal supplements can increase the chance for seizures. This month’s column will itemise drugs, both over the counter or prescribed, and/or herbal supplements that may increase the risk for seizures.

There are a lot of other medications that may cause seizures. Prescribed medications and medication groups that are often listed as possibly causing seizures include:

• antidepressants, such as bupropion or tricyclic antidepressants neuroleptics, such as phenothiazines or clozapine

• antibiotics

• beta lactams

• penicillins

• carbapenems

• quinolones

• isoniazid

• metronidazole

• cyclosporin

• diophyllin

• meperidine

• pseudoephedrine

• tramadol
Hormones may also increase seizures. This is particularly true for estrogens.

Cancer medications that may augment the chance for seizures include the following agents:

• anthracyclines

• bevacizumab

• cisplatinum

• cyclophosphamide

• cytarabine

• etoposide

• iphosphamide

• interferon alpha

• interleukin-2

• L-asparaginase

• methotrexate

• nitrosoureas

• vincristine

Sometimes drug abuse leads to seizures. Substances that can cause seizures by either taking too much or suddenly stopping it are listed below:

• ethanol/alcohol

• opiates: morphine, heroin, fentanyl, meperidine, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, codeine, oxycodone, hydrocodone

• sedatives and hypnotics, such as: benzodiazepines, barbiturates, ecstasy, GABA hydroxybutyric acid

• stimulants

• combed cocaine

• methamphetamine

• methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA)

• hallucinogens


• mescaline or peyote

• psilocybin (or mushrooms)


• marijuana

• inhalants

• alcohol

Many individuals take over the counter supplements. In certain situations, the following supplements may be possibly associated with seizures:

• ephedrine

• pseudoephedrine

• energy drinks especially when mixed with alcohol

• phenylpropanolamine

• creatine

• gingko biloba

• St. John’s Wort

It is clear from the article that any additional medication should be discussed with your doctor before taking the medication. Here are some other helpful tips:

• Do not stop your medication abruptly. You could risk a medical emergency in the form of non-stop seizures which could be life threatening.

• Attend all follow up appointments with your doctor.

• Do not try other people’s medication. Even if your friend has better control with a different medication, check with your doctor first.

• Alcohol and medication can be a dangerous combination. Both are depressants and one may affect the other.

• Do not drive or operate power tools when starting a new medication until you know how it affects you. It may make you drowsy at fist.

• Do not assume that if you missed a few doses of your medication you can then make them up safely by taking them all at once. What you need is a certain amount of medication, taken at regular intervals.

• If you have trouble remembering to take your medication, try counting out each day’s supply of pills and storing them in special containers you can buy at the pharmacy. Put a reminder on your phone.

• Do not run out of medication. If you are going on a trip, make sure you have enough to last until your return and carry a copy of your prescription with you. If you go overseas, find out from your doctor what the medication is called (drugs often have different names in different countries).

• Keep all medication locked up and away from children.