“I BELIEVE we are put on earth for a purpose and are all called to serve our community,” said Cheshire Homes Eastern Province branch coordinator Hilary Bolton who has worked tirelessly to improve the lives of the disabled for nearly three decades.
The Walmer resident monitors and supports all projects that fall under the EP branch of Cheshire Homes, but one project close to her heart is Khaya Cheshire in Victoria Drive, which serves the Walmer Township community.
Bolton, 50, has been involved with Cheshire Homes for 29 years and has worked closely with Khaya Cheshire for the last 10 years.
Khaya was started 12 years ago and is a product of the Summerstrand Cheshire Home.
“There are so many disabled people in the city,” said Bolton. “We decided we needed to do something more.”
She then identified children with a variety of mental and physical disabilities in the township to work with.
It was only in 2005 that they found a building – a double garage at the premises of the Human Dignity Centre.
Bolton began her career as a social worker at the Summerstrand Cheshire Home, a place of significance for her.
“My gran had a stroke at the age of 60 and was taken to the Cheshire Home in Summerstrand.”
Her focus now is on her job as a coordinator, but she said she loved the aspect of social work.
“As long as I can remember I have known that I wanted to work as a social worker and with people with disabilities. It has been a driving force in my life.”
Khaya Cheshire is a daytime care facility that caters to the basic educational, healthcare and dietary needs of 23 disabled children between the age of five and 25. The facility is run by teachers from Walmer Township and they also rely on volunteers.
“I see us as a unique family,” said Bolton.
The mother of three said they received no government funding.
She said raising funds for food, transport and better facilities was challenging .
“But we don’t give up,” she said. “I have a wonderful team of dedicated people.”
The needs of the children are immense and the space in which they gather daily is limited to one small classroom. They wish to double the size of the classroom by January next year to be able to offer children with the targeted age and ability appropriate education and development.
Bolton said most of the children were impoverished and vulnerable and lived in miserable conditions.
“To be disabled is one thing, but to be poor and disabled is a human tragedy.”
Bolton, who has lived in Walmer all her life, is married to James and said her family had always supported her.
“I am grateful for being part of Cheshire for so long. God’s purpose for me is to serve Cheshire.”