Half way around the world in Johannesburg, South Africa, a non-profit organization calling themselves “Epilepsy Awareness South Africa” (EASA) dedicate their time to inform and educate their local communities.
Founded in 2015 by Linda Dias Menezes and Maximillian van Heerden both of whom have been affected by this disease in different ways. Max has been raising awareness since he was just 9 years old. Along with his continued work with EASA, Max volunteers his time at organizations like the Reea Foundation (“Established in 1935 and is a non-profit organization caring for adults living with epilepsy and mild mental disorders who cannot be accommodated in a normal family environment. REEA Foundation provides a well-managed residential centre, with 24 hour care, providing accommodation for over 40 residents in a comfortable, home-style hostel that includes professional medical care at all times.) His inspiration to bring awareness, educate, and help those around him derives from his mother, Tania van Heerden, who was diagnosed with Epilepsy at just the age of seven and works alongside her son at EASA.
“My work with Easa is very rewarding and I take great pride in educating the community, especially with road shows and organizing our annual Purple Day Walk. My Easa team is my family,” said Ms. Heerden.
Before beginning EASA, Linda had been raising epilepsy awareness for two years. Since being diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of twelve, she has had a passionate drive to educate those she meets about epilepsy and first aid treatment during epileptic seizures.
The REEA Gardens has been a passion project for EASA. Members of EASA manage an all organic garden at the REEA Foundations centre. Not only does this garden help sustain the residents of the REEA centre but every Wednesday members of the public are welcome to come to their farmer’s market and purchase the fresh organic produce and eggs.
EASA is growing every day, increasing their reach and spreading awareness of epilepsy. With so much going on already, they are continuing to think about their future and what can be done to help those dealing with epilepsy.
“In the future, Epilepsy Awareness South Africa hopes to be able to help people with disabilities apply for grants, pay for medication for those who cannot afford it and open a children’s home for children with epilepsy.”
Keep up the great work EASA. We here at Different Brains are rooting for your success in all your endeavors in spreading awareness to those with epilepsy.
Bret Segall-Abrams graduated from North Carolina State University in 2015 where he studied Sport Management and Business Administration. He is currently pursuing a career in sports marketing and management. Along with assisting the Different Brains team with marketing and media content he is also a tour guide for Vermont Biking Tours where he leads week long bicycle tours from Charleston, South Carolina to Savannah, Georgia during the Fall and Spring months.