Pupil committed to helping others after losing arm during school trip

2015-09-25 10:38
Hilton College pupil Xilombe Tlakula, who lost his arm in a school outing two years ago, now inspires others.

Hilton College pupil Xilombe Tlakula, who lost his arm in a school outing two years ago, now inspires others. (Ian Carbutt, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - A freak accident led to Xilombe Tlakula’s right arm being amputated at the elbow, but this has not crushed his indomitable spirit.

Today Xilombe, a 17-year-old Hilton College Grade 11 pupil, is a motivational speaker who wants to start his own foundation to help other injured teenagers get access to physiotherapy.

“There is a saying that once you are on top, send the elevator down to fetch the others. Without physiotherapy, I would not have made it. Others are not as lucky as me. I would like to give back,” said Xilombe.

The teenager still has vivid recollections of the incident, which occurred during a school hiking team-building trip at Tseke Tseke Pass in Cathedral Peak in the Drakensberg.

It was reported at the time that it took more than four hours for rescuers to reach the Grade 9 pupil, who was bleeding profusely after a boulder rolled down about 10 metres and hit him.

The hike is part of Hilton College’s Outward Bound expedition.

“It was a group of eight boys doing mountain hiking. We had walked about 100 m and seven boys were in front of me when a rock dislodged from above,” he said. “Instinctively something just said, ‘Move to the left’. It hit my right arm.”

Xilombe, who joked that his first thoughts on impact were “What the girls were going to think of me”, said he could not feel his arm.

“I just told myself that I’m not ready to die. I said to myself that I have not done enough to allow myself to die. I did not cry at all until the nurses told me that they could not save my arm,” he said. “It took the ambulance about five hours to arrive, I was bleeding non-stop.”

Xilombe, whose dominant hand was amputated, said it took him time to get used to being left-handed. “I had to go to therapy for six months where I was taught how to write with my left hand. Even now it’s not easy but I manage.”

Last year Xilombe was invited by St Nicholas Diocesan school to do a motivational talk. Three weeks ago he did the same at Cordwalles Preparatory School.

“I should be doing them more often. Chatting to my peers motivates me as well,” he said. “My message is simple. What I’m trying to convey to them is that it is up to them to determine what they can and are able to do …”

Xilombe said the incident made him want to do more. “I have never wanted to back down on a challenge. I want to take advantage of the situation.

“I play rugby, soccer and water polo. I can do everything that I used to do before,” he said.

Altough Xilombe is not sure which career path he wants to take, he wants to study overseas after he matriculates

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  good news

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