Paul Steyn has walked thousands of kilometres to create awareness and show other amputees, and the general public, the mobility that a prosthetic leg provides an amputee. In the process, he has raised thousands of rands to assist disadvantaged amputees.
Optimistic, compassionate and driven, Steyn is committed to making a difference in the lives of other amputees.
After an accident at school at the age of 13, Steyn’s right leg was amputated and he had to use crutches to get around. When he was 16 someone donated a prosthetic leg to him. In college he was elected to the Student Representative Council with the portfolio of community involvement, which ignited in him a passion for community work. These experiences led him to devote his life to community work and start the Paul Steyn Foundation.
“I believe in paying it forward,” Steyn says.
At first Steyn did shorter walks, mainly in the Western Cape. Then in August 2015, he walked for nearly 7 000km over a period of 15 months through all nine South African provinces. Through his walks, Steyn experienced the country in its diversity, both in its nature and in its people. “No matter where you are, be it in the dry Northern Cape, the lush Garden Route or the rolling grasslands of the highveld, walking through it, there is always something of beauty to be found,” he says. Everywhere he went people were interested and interesting, helpful and hospitable. It taught him never to judge anyone by the way they look.
Walking long distances for long periods of time is not easy, but Steyn’s faith in God and his belief in his mission motivates him to keep going. During his walks, problems with a recurring abscess behind the knee of his stump meant he had to stay over in some places for longer than scheduled to have it treated.
During tough times his main motivation is the difference he has made in other people’s lives. It never occurred to him to give up. When Steyn sets himself a goal, he is determined to complete it.
As for his plans for the future, Steyn says: “I hope we can expand the foundation to be able to assist every person that applies, and qualifies, for help in the future. I would like to see the Paul Steyn Foundation as the foremost organisation working with, and on behalf of, amputees in South Africa and Africa.” — Shaazia Ebrahim