Meet Mthandazo Ndlovu: Disabled hero of the vulnerable

28 Jan, 2023 - 00:01 0 Views
Meet Mthandazo Ndlovu: Disabled hero of the vulnerable Mthandazo Ndlovu

The Chronicle

Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief
BORN disabled, Mthandazo Ndlovu (22) from Gwanda Town has had first-hand experience of the discrimination faced by people living with disability.

His school going days were the hardest as he was called names. It was also difficult for him to access some of the facilities at school and to move around.

After completing his O-level education he became one of the pioneers of Nkomwa Foundation Trust (NFT), a Gwanda-based disability organisation.

Mthandazo Ndlovu

Ndlovu recently graduated from the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU) with certificates in Information Communication Technology and Sign Language and ICT. He is one of hundreds of people from Matabeleland South who benefitted from the ongoing partnership between Angel of Hope Foundation (AOH) and ZOU.

The knowledge he has acquired has made him more committed to raise awareness on disability issues, offer support, provide a voice and empower people with disability as well as advocate for their rights.

Ndlovu, who is also an artist who majors in drawing and painting, wishes to impart his skills to others. He was born with a club foot condition, which is a foot abnormality usually present at birth in which a baby’s foot is twisted out of shape or position. He was also diagnosed with spinal bifida which is a birth defect that occurs when the spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.

Ndlovu also suffers from hydrocephalus, a condition in which an accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) occurs within the brain leading to buildup of fluid in the ventricles deep within the brain.

Due to the hydrocephalus condition a ventriculoperitoneal shunt VP shunt was inserted in his body. The device is used to drain extra cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from his brain.

He lives with a congenital deformity of the spine and has to walk with the aid of crutches.
Ndlovu said the education he has received has opened his mind. He said people with disabilities like him need to take a leading role in advocating for their rights.

“When I went to school I was the only pupil who had a disability. It was difficult for me because by then the schools hadn’t incorporated strategies to accommodate people with disabilities. The place wasn’t ideal for someone in my state. The learning environment was harsh as I was called all sorts of names. Other learners used to call me a ‘para’ which is short for a paralympic.

I tried by all means to ensure this didn’t affect my studies.
“Growing up I confined myself to my home and I didn’t put much thought into other disabled people and their experiences. I didn’t want to move around a lot out of fear of being a laughing stock. Working at NFT opened my eyes. I’m no longer afraid of who I am and now I have put myself out there. The disability awareness and sign language course which I undertook has opened my eyes on various forms of disabilities and issues around them,” he said.

Ndlovu said he has started to bridge the communication gap with those who are hard of hearing and speech impaired through sign language training.

He wants to be an example and inspiration to other people with disabilities.
Ndlovu’s mother Sikhangezile Ndlovu said her son had drawn most of his motivation from seeing other people with disabilities who were influential in society.

“When Mthandazo was born we were told that his lifespan would be five years but he has lived for so long. I have watched him over the years growing and developing and he has gained a lot of confidence. He has gained a lot of motivation from other disabled people and his focus is on improving his life and making it in life. He always tells me that his disability can’t stop him from succeeding in life,” she said.

Sikhangezile said she loves her son and wants to see him beat the odds stacked against him. She said while her son’s condition used to give her sleepless nights, she had made peace with it. Sikhangezile said she understood that she had to be the number one support and source of strength for her son before other people came in.
She appealed to well-wishers to assist her family as her son still needed medical attention on a regular basis. — @DubeMatutu

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