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Living with the curse that is disability

 Homeless Talk (South Africa) 06 January 2019

Physically disabled Jacob Tshabangu is sad and worried about the life he did not choose to live. The Soweto based Tshabangu, who suffered a spine injury after he was stabbed by thugs in the mid-eighties, says since he became paraplegic life has become a misery. “I feel that the world has turned its back on me. Every time I have to do something somebody has to be on my side. Yet I have to pay for any service rendered even when I don’t have money. I don’t blame anybody for my physical condition but I feel that most able bodied people discriminate against us”. (818 Words) - By Luke Jentile

physically disabled

Photo: No wheels - Jacob Tshabangu needs an automatic wheelchair . Photo courtesy of Homeless Talk.

Tshabangu , who stays with his younger brother Oupa  who is also disabled, says  if only his plea could reach  out to a Samaritan  he  could manage  to lessen  the trauma  they both go  through on daily basis..

"We are both disabled and rely on other people to help us in everything in everything we do. Sometimes we do not have money to pay for services and in most cases we have to suffer.  My only wish is to get a donation  of a second  hand automatic  wheel chair so that if both of us need something from the shop I can wheel myself", he says.

Oupa, who is on crutches, was also attacked by thugs in a different incident some years after his brother was left paralyzed.  He is attending treatment at Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital and every time he has to go for a check-up somebody has to help him board a taxi.  Jacob says Oupa , who at the time of going to print was admitted due to his severe physical condition , is also trying to raise money to pay neighbor to collect his medicine from hospital.  "It is really terrible for both of us.  Therefore it is not easy for them to look after us".

However, Jacob and Oupa are not the only people who have to bear the brunt of living with disability.  Carol Marate who was born cerebral palsy has become used to humiliation and had just accepted her condition. After failing to secure a job due to her physical condition, Marate decided to enroll in a child minding course so that she could raise and teach physically disabled children.  On completion of the course Marate registered a few children with the hope of securing sponsorship to turn her house into a pre-school for children living with disability.

Fortunately as she had thought, a Good Samaritan came to her rescue. She says, "I considered myself fortunate when an internationally acclaimed musician promised to get me a sponsorship abroad. We did all the paperwork  and sent it through until a response came along.  She then promised to bring me the money after her return from overseas.  Since then I have been waiting for her call until one of her family members gave me her numbers.  When I called her she told me that she would be back in a few weeks time. Two months passed by and her phone had since been on voicemail".

Marate says after failing to get hold of the musician she went back to the same family member who refused to give her the other contact numbers. "I then decided to leave her because she is a celebrity, so the chances of getting her arrested  would be small.  I have also tried to apply for sponsorship at the Department of Social Welfare but failed, especially when they realized that I am physically disabled".

After failing to get help from the department Marate was taken for a ride again.  This time by a man she thought would take care of her.  "I trusted him so much when he promised to marry me in spite of my physical condition. But he ran away after I fell pregnant.  I wonder why physically able-bodied people treat us like sub-humans", laments Marate.

It does not end for Jacob and Carol though. The Organization for the Blind Women in Diepkloof, Soweto, has also had  strange encounters with able-bodied people.  The spokesperson for the organization, Mary Makgatle says," We have started a soap manufacturing business that will sustain us and our families.  However, our efforts to generate income seem to be fruitless.  Most people do not believe that we can run a business successfully because of our physical condition. As a result they prefer to buy soap from town instead of supporting us.  In most cases people would criticize us for being unable to produce quality soap which we can not see with our eyes.  It is really frustrating", she says.

Several attempts to get a spokesperson from Soweto Sheltered Workshop for the Disabled have been unsuccessful.

Originally published by Homeless Talk ©

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