Teenager acts as eyes of her blind par­ents

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - THEMBEKA DLAMUKA

CHILD­HOOD was far from con­ven­tional for Nyanga East teenager Nox­olo Ma­gen­genene. At five she was in­ject­ing her blind mother with in­sulin and at seven she was do­ing the fam­ily shop­ping to give her fa­ther a break.

Now, at 18, the Grade 11 pupil at ID Mk­ize High cares not only for her mother, but also for her fa­ther who went blind four years ago, fol­low­ing an ac­ci­dent at work in which a nail shot into his eye, which then be­came in­fected and left him blind in both eyes. Her day starts at 3am. “We live in a one-room house and I have to wake up that early to get ev­ery­one ready. The first per­son to bath is my mom; I need to help her iron her clothes and pack her lunch box.”

She also helps her fa­ther get ready for the day – he stays at home – be­fore get­ting her­self ready. Then she starts the 30-minute walk to school be­cause the fam­ily can­not af­ford the taxi fare.

Nox­olo is an only child, and al­though she’s come to terms with her role as carer, she ad­mits that fit­ting in time for her stud­ies isn’t easy.

Nox­olo’s mother, Nosipho Ma­gen­genene, was blind when she met her fa­ther, Louis Ma­gen­genene. Nox­olo was born in 1998 and the fam­ily lived with an un­cle and aunt un­til her aunt died.

Al­though Nox­olo was sent to live in the East­ern Cape with an­other aunt when she was just 10 months old, her mother brought her back to Cape Town in 2001 be­cause she missed her too much.

“I wanted Nox­olo to know me and get used to the idea that I am blind,” she said.

Nox­olo’s tough home cir­cum- stances weren’t helped when she was in pri­mary school and chil­dren teased her about her sit­u­a­tion. At Mkhayiseli Pri­mary School, she re­called how of­ten she was bul­lied, and how chil­dren laughed at her. She was so in­tim­i­dated that she never raised her hand in class for fear they would laugh at her.

Her mother has not, how­ever, let her blind­ness keep her home­bound. And al­though she doesn’t earn a set salary, has she trained as a masseuse and works at the Light & Heal­ing Cen­tre in Tokai. They fetch her on work days.

The big­gest blow to the fam­ily came in 2012 with her fa­ther Louis’s ac­ci­dent, which left him blind too.

Nox­olo was 14 at the time, and had to also take on her fa­ther’s re­spon­si­bil­i­ties in the home. Ef­fec­tively, she be­came the par­ent. It’s very dif­fi­cult, the teenager ad­mits.

“When I go back home, I take care of the house and pre­pare food for all of us. Only when I have fin­ished all my re­spon­si­bil­i­ties can I start with my home­work. But some­times I’m so tired that I just end up fall­ing asleep.”

Nox­olo be­lieves that if the fam­ily lived in a big­ger home, that would be a start to a dif­fer­ent life.

“But we al­ways make the best of our sit­u­a­tion. There’s noth­ing else we can do,” she said. Nox­olo still has dreams though. “My goal is to study at UCT so I can be­come a char­tered ac­coun­tant,” she said.



Nox­olo Ma­gen­genene, cen­tre, looks after her blind par­ents, Louis and Nosipho.

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