Leonard Ncube, Victoria Falls Reporter
FIFTEEN-year-old Blessing Caroline Ncube of Makwa in Hwange, hops to school on one leg but her spirit is not dampened by her disability.
An inner spirit tells her she can make it in life.
Her goal is to become a teacher just like her paternal aunt now working in South Africa.
Blessing is a Form 3 pupil at Neshaya Secondary School in Makwa area, Hwange district.
She is the first born in a family of two, and her sibling is 10 years old.
Blessing was born at St Patrick’s Hospital in Hwange with a rare paraplegic condition, a partial or complete paralysis of the lower half of the body.
She has one complete left leg while her right leg ends just below the knee.
Her arms are also incomplete limbs without hands.
The right-hand limb ends at the elbow while the left one ends on the wrist.
Her disability is not a result of injury but she was born with the condition.
As a young girl deep in a remote rural area and attending a rural school, she knows no special treatment.
Her school has no special class for people of her condition and she has to learn, do school and homework, and write exercises at the same pace with all her classmates despite not having palms and fingers to hold a pen and write.
She has to attend assembly with others, attend lessons and above all, do her household chores before and after school.
With a single leg and no hands, Blessing’s life looks hard from a bystander’s view.
However, her spirit is not dampened as she wants to participate in everything that her able-bodied colleagues can do.
She caught the attention of former Malawi President Dr Joyce Banda and Southern African Development Initiators (SADI) officials during their visit to Hwange’s Msuna last week when she stood from the crowd and hopped across the arena to join her schoolmates to sing the national anthem.
SADI had invited Dr Banda to officiate at a ground-breaking ceremony for an irrigation project which will have a citrus plantation and fish ponds for villagers in Kanjeza.
Immediately, an official from SADI said they were going to take care of her school needs.
Without a wheelchair or crutches, Blessing’s only way of mobility is by hopping around.
She hops to school and surprisingly, can go to fetch water, do household chores and other duties.
“I can write like everyone and finish my work as long as the hands are not painful because sometimes when I overuse them, they become sore.
At home I can do household chores like washing plates, cooking and cleaning the house.
I even bath on my own,” said Blessing.
When a Chronicle news crew approached her for an interview, Blessing who was browsing through her phone, said she can type using her longer left-hand limb as long as the phone is balanced on her lap.
She did her primary education at Makwa School, and her mother Ms Future Ncube would carry her to school or she would hop along with other children.
Going to secondary school was difficult for her compared to primary as she had to carry more books but her blessing came when her mother got a job at Neshaya as a cook.
The two moved to stay at the school cottages.
Blessing’s father is based in South Africa and has not visited since the outbreak of Covid-19 three years ago, said the girl.
The girl is doing Mathematics, English, Science, Nambya, Commerce and Geography and St Patrick’s Hospital is helping pay her school fees.
“I want to be a teacher,” she said.
“I was inspired by my aunt Sikholiwe Ncube who was a teacher before relocating to South Africa where she is based.”
Blessing said her immediate need is an artificial leg for her to freely walk and probably wear both shoes.
“I once had a wheelchair but it was difficult to move around because I had no one to push me.
I need an artificial leg so I can walk around,” she told Dr Banda who had a brief chat with her soon after the ground-breaking ceremony at Kanjeza Village.
Dr Banda promised to send Blessing an artificial leg and motorised wheelchair.
“I have just found another mentee today and she said she needs an artificial leg.
I am going to make sure it is sent to her soon and she will get it in a few days.
She also needs a wheelchair but she said there is no-one to push her, so we will send her a motorised wheelchair as well,” said Dr Banda.
Blessing demonstrated to Dr Banda how she uses her limbs to write, and her mouth to prepare the pen for writing.
Neshaya school head Mr Lunyalalo Ncube said Blessing would sometimes go and fetch water with other learners from a water pipe about 1km from the school.
The school has been having water challenges for some years and its only source has been a leaking Zimbabwe Power Company pipe about a kilometre away.
At the ground-breaking ceremony, Blessing was accompanied by Ms Blessing Chipare, an English and Geography teacher who praised her for her resilience.
“She does normal duties because we don’t have a special class but she is given special care.
We however, try to make her fit with others because of the demands of the new curriculum,” she said.