In 1997 entrepreneurial whizz kid, William Dlamini, was just 33 years old, and already the managing member of a networking and cabling company. In April of that year he injured his spine (T12) in a car accident.
Like so many before him, William struggled to come to terms with his accident. The situation was even worse when he was discharged from rehab and sent home. There was nothing about his home that was accessible, he couldn't get into the bathroom or his bedroom so, once he was in bed, he tended to stay there!
By spending so much time in bed he quickly developed pressure sores. When his doctor discovered the cause of his pressure sores he booked him into the Astra Nursing Home in Durban. William stayed there for 18 months. The nursing home was like a rainbow in a bleak and stormy sky. Dedicated and caring nursing staff recognised the dark space that he was in. He was even avoiding his friends, not able to parade his disability before them. The nurses encouraged him to test out his new body and he saw how much fellow residents,also in wheelchairs, were able to accomplish. The glimmer of hope was sparked as William realised that disability was not the end of his life.
One of the nurses, Adelaide, introduced him to the Saint Giles Remedial Gymnasium. He enjoyed working out so much that he decided to buya car and have it adapted so that he could drive himself to gym. It was a terrifying experience! He had been housebound for almost a year.
Ever the entrepreneur, he started a small business as soonas he got his adapted car, selling cleaning products to taxi drivers and peopleabout town! Every week he would go to the supplier to collect cleaning products and, it turned out, to visit a certain special lady, Xolile, who worked there.
They started dating, William proposed and Xolile accepted! William moved out of Astra and they rented a flat in Umbilo. The flat was older and had big rooms (including the bathroom) and wide passages. There was a lift from the car park to the flat that was great - except when the lift wasn't working. Then he was stuck inside on the top floor! With Xolile's two children and William's one, they became a family.
One day William went to the Pavillion shopping centre and bumped into Russel Laing whom he had worked with in his mobile days. Russel knew of a solutions company who were looking for staff. William went to check if the offices were wheelchair friendly and was suddenly a Public SectorAccount Manager selling computer systems to the public sector!
It was a struggle as so many of the government buildings were not wheelchair accessible, but William was on top of the world, building up his strength and re-finding his old confidence. He was so good at his job that a communications company poached him and made him their managing director! He was on a roll but still struggling with inaccessible buildings!
By 2004 William and Xolile had bought a house in Pinetown and then, toward the end of 2009, William heard of a mortuary that was for sale. It had nothing, the business was collapsing; it had a fridge and staff -that was all. There wasn't even a hearse, as the owners preferred hiring vehicles for the funerals.
In January 2010 William became a full-time funeral director. He has built up the business, made sure that all the resources are there and today they have four vehicles for funeral services. William often drives the 'Family Vehicle' and the bereaved family members don't even realise that heuses hand controls. He is also a Director and shareholder of a Call Center, Chaplin Beekrum and Ngwenya, in Durban.
He and Xolile agreed that she should not work with him because, "it is very bad to work with your spouse!"
William has not forgotten the dark place he was at in 1997. "Life is moving on and life goes on. It does not matter that you arein a wheelchair. Once you change your mind set and focus on what you want to achieve (instead of what you can't do) you can achieve a lot. Yes, people end up in wheelchairs but is not easy you can think of, but it's not the end of the world! Today I am a successful and respected businessman - and I am HAPPY!! "