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Ruth Cummings Gombe
 
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Are you disabled?

23 November 2012, 19:26

This last week, much focus has been on Thanksgiving, with much effort put into the following: family, food, fun.  Even though Thanksgiving is traditionally an American event, I would like to encourage us all to take time out to reflect and be thankful.  Think about the things you DO have, and not what you don't have.  Be thankful for the things you do have.  Count your blessings and be grateful for each one.

I met a very inspirational person the other day, after which I reflected on the word 'disability' and what it really means, and also how many of us are not aware of our own 'disabilities'.  I usually have people walk into the office asking for a job, money, or selling something.  Thabo Mofokeng did not want any of that.  He came in to tell me about his business.  He is visually impaired, but by the time he left, I felt like I was the one with a visual impairment!  He told me how he used to consider his impairment a disability, but one day he realised that only HE could change the course of his life by changing the way he thought about himself.  He is a professional drummer and dancer, and decided to focus on his abilities rather than his disability.  In 2010, he registered a company and was able to teach some Fifa World Cup tourists his art.  He has been uplifting underpriviledged kids in his community by teaching them African drumming and dance, fully funded by his meagre disability grant.

Thabo markets his business himself, he teaches his students himself, creates his own events, he does not own a car and has to travel on foot or public transport wherever he goes.  He owns a small cellphone which he can barely read unless he holds it right up against his eye.  And yet, in spite of all this, pity was not an emotion I felt.  I felt inspiration, pride and hope for this young, soft-spoken man who is determined to make it against all odds.  He has been granted use of a building in a business centre rent-free for the next 5 years by a kind donor, but it is in need of some renovation and repair.  Does this cause him despair? Hardly, as he is already planning how to raise funds by hosting a Jazz/Drumming gig, he is approaching companies to offer entertainment for their year-end events.  He has created a dancercise routine using African drumbeats (played by himself) and he is also holding holiday classes for kids from all walks of life as they will learn discipline through dance and coordination through drumming (parents, note that this equates to sleep for you as your kids will be worn out after each session ;-)). 

Thabo told me that when he shifted focus from the negative to the positive, he began to view his visual impairment as an ability, rather than a disability.  If he was not disabled, he said, he probably would not be where he is today.  He would most likely be sitting at home having a pity party somewhere, waiting for life to happen.  Instead, he considers his impairment as motivation to keep going and aim high.  His business is struggling as he has not had much financial support, but he keeps going and knows that one day, he will reach his goals.   He has met some wonderful, supportive individuals and businesses along the way who have assisted him with printing his business plan and business cards (make no mistake, Thabo is a very serious business man!), and have given him a helping hand where they could.

Don't take things for granted, remember that there are others who would consider it a huge blessing to have some of what you have.  Be thankful, be grateful, be appreciative.  Being thankful also helps lift your spirits, because when you focus on positive things, you generate a positive energy both within and without.  You have, within you, enough to do and be whatever you put your mind you, if you will only take time to be positive and thankful.

To connect with Thabo, or if you would like to get involved, make a donation, book him for an event or if you have been inspired by the brief profile above, please contact him via his Facebook profile (Thiza David) on the link below.  We are in the process of creating a Facebook page and LinkedIn profile for him too.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/thiza.david

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