On a lazy Sunday afternoon I visited Thantaswa Mpulu (43) who lives a few houses down the road. Her twenty-year old disabled son, Siphe, is living with her and she tells us more about coming to terms with his situation.

“My son was a very happy baby but when he was about 11 months old I noticed something was very wrong. I took him to the Cofimvaba Hospital where they transferred me to the Cecilia Makhiwane in Mdantsane, East London. The doctors gave me the sad news that my son was disabled and supplied him with a wheelchair. Even though I cried for a while I told myself that his disability is not the end of the world and that I have to accept my son's situation.” Thantaswa is unemployed and a single parent and they survive on Siphe’s disability grant. Transport is a major challenge. “Whenever we have to go to town or visit the doctor the taxi drivers give me a hard time complaining about the size of his wheelchair. I even suggested that they put his chair on a seat and I will pay for an extra passenger,” says Thantaswa.

Whenever she goes to town her sister jumps in and takes care of Siphe until she gets home.

However, it is important that he regularly goes to Fronteir Hospital in Queenstown for his physiotherapy sessions. They rent a car for R250 to get him to his sessions. “My main challenge living in a rural area is that people are not well informed about disabilities at all. There is no support system and we have no one we can talk to and get advice from.

My wish for him is to go to school and to buy him a powered tilting wheelchair, but unfortunately I can’t afford either” she adds. “My message to other mothers who look after disabled kids is love and support them. They are a special gift from God and with Him all things are possible.

Disability is not a death sentence- especially when you get support from your family and loved ones.”

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