A voice for the disabled

2017-04-11 14:00
After losing his leg, Mbongiseni Mabaso (39) refused to allow disability to deter him as he now dedicates his life to empower other disabled people in Pietermaritzburg.

After losing his leg, Mbongiseni Mabaso (39) refused to allow disability to deter him as he now dedicates his life to empower other disabled people in Pietermaritzburg. (Nompilo Kunene)

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After living for more than 30 years with both his legs, Mbongiseni Mabaso was forced to have his right leg amputated after a nasty spider bite.

Mabaso (39), who was born in Imbali, has now dedicated his life to being the voice of the voiceless Pietermaritzburg people who live with disabilities.

“I was working as a driver delivering goods for a local company. One day I was sent to a farm to deliver something and was bitten by a spider.

“I did not take the spider bite seriously but after a week the pain became intense. My leg swelled up, I had blisters and the pain was excruciating.

“The doctors told me that the blood had stopped circulating in my leg and I had to get it amputated immediately.

“I was eager to cut off my leg as it was too painful to bear.

“Later, I was medically boarded despite a letter from my doctor clearly stating that I was still more than capable of carrying out my duties at work. Being boarded off was quite stressful.

“As a person living with a disability I started to see how society was far from accommodating to those with disabilities.

“I decided to do something about these issues and try to make a difference. I registered a company called Beyond Disability, which seeks to help people with disabilities have access to services and information.

“Personally I have never been in a situation where I felt helpless because of my disability.

“However, I have witnessed many incidents where disabled people are left feeling helpless because they are not able to gain access to certain places.

“On a daily basis disabled people face challenges, they cannot access public transport, school premises, government service offices, health facilities and job opportunities are very scarce.

“Imagine a deaf person boarding a public taxi, how do they tell the driver they want to get off at the next stop?

“Taxi ranks have concrete pavings, how must a person in a wheelchair get by? It is very stressful and unfair because no one chooses to be disabled.

“My company is affiliated with an organisation called Disability Talent Search Motivation and Farming (DTSMF) and together our aim is to empower disabled local people.

“We get a lot of support from the municipality and other government departments.

“We educate people, especially children, who are not disabled about disability because people tend to think being disabled is a curse.

“We also work with service providers and organisations and host events and motivational workshops where organisations make an effort to bring their services to disabled people who sometimes find it hard to access these services.

“For all those living with disabilities and are still struggling to accept it, all I can say is there is nothing wrong with you and you too are human,” added Mabaso.

Mabaso has been using crutches to get by but recently had a prosthetic leg fitted to make it easier to get around.

“Disability is not about struggling to be normal but it is about adapting to your disability and finding a way around it.”

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  pmb people

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