DIS­ABLED KIDS SUF­FER­ING

Re­ports on how chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties in Dag­gakraal, Mpumalanga, miss out on an ed­u­ca­tion be­cause the area has no spe­cial needs school. took the pic­tures

Sowetan - - NEWS - Macu­[email protected]­tan.co.za

CHIL­DREN and youth (some at least 16-years old) with dis­abil­i­ties in the ru­ral Dag­gakraal near Volkrust in Mpumalanga, have never seen the in­side of a class­room.

This is be­cause there are no spe­cial needs schools in the area to cater for them.

Sowe­tan spoke to at least four fam­i­lies whose chil­dren suf­fer from dif­fer­ent dis­abil­i­ties about the pain of see­ing them lan­guish­ing at home and not get­ting an ed­u­ca­tion.

The worst case is that of 11-yearold No­ma­lun­gelo Madon­sela who has cere­bral palsy.

Her fam­ily al­leged that her dis­abil­ity was caused by doc­tors’ neg­li­gence at Elsie Bal­lot Hospi­tal in Amers­foort dur­ing her birth.

Madon­sela’s mother, Lindiwe, al­leged that she begged doc­tors to op­er­ate on her but they ig­nored her and when they at­tended to her the next morn­ing, they said it was too late to op­er­ate.

“When my child was born, her whole body was navy and her neck was green,” she said.

Madon­sela’s fam­ily be­lieves that if she was at­tend­ing school she could re­ceive the right pro­fes­sional care and even have ac­cess to phys­io­ther­apy to help with her pos­ture.

But in­stead No­ma­lun­gelo spends her days in bed be­cause she can not even sit on a wheel­chair.

“My heart bleeds for this child. I can not do any­thing. I have to be here to look af­ter her. I can’t even go to church.

“We need a school here. I re­ally be­lieve that if she at least associated with chil­dren like her, she would de­velop,” said Madon­sela’s grand­mother, Rose Bhembe.

Lun­gelo Nk­wanyane’s peers call him mad and do not want to play with the 16-year-old. While they go off to school he is left wan­der­ing the streets of Dag­gakraal.

Nk­wanyane at­tended only one day of school when he was about eight years old.

The mother said when she went to fetch him af­ter school, she was told by teach­ers that they could not cope with him and there­fore could not ac­com­mo­date him.

Lun­gelo’s mother, Zanele, said her son is in­tel­lec­tu­ally-chal­lenged, dis­abled, can­not use his left hand which is crooked and has poor eye­sight.

“When I left him in the morn­ing at Sizen­zele [pri­mary school] I told the teach­ers that I would fetch him to find out what his progress was, but to my sur­prise when I fetched him that af­ter­noon they told me that he must not come back.

“They said I must keep him at home be­cause they could not cope with him,” said Zanele.

When Sowe­tan vis­ited No­luthulo Mbatha’s home, she was sit­ting in a shack out­side her fam­ily home, talk­ing to her­self. The 14-year-old does not at­tend school.

Her mother’s aunt, Aletta Nd­aba, started tak­ing care of No­luthulo when she was just a baby af­ter her mother passed away.

“We picked up that she was not well when she was about three years old. She de­layed to walk and talk. When she turned eight, we took her to Sizen­zele Pri­mary.

“She was there for a year but they told us not to bring her back the fol­low­ing year be­cause Sizen­zele was not the right school for her,” said Nd­aba.

Mbatha is in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­abled but Nd­aba be­lieves that she is ca­pa­ble of at­tend­ing school “but she needs teach­ers who will be more pa­tient with her”.

Nd­aba, 72, said her big­gest worry is what will hap­pen to Mbatha when she passes away be­cause she has no skills to lead an in­de­pen­dent life.

An­other par­ent, Pinky Shongwe, is will­ing to send her child to an­other prov­ince just so he can re­ceive an ed­u­ca­tion.

Her nine-year-old son, Siyanda, was re­cently di­ag­nosed with autism. Shongwe said doc­tors did not ini­tially know what was wrong with him.

Shongwe said he was born with wa­ter in his head. She said he cur­rently has a tube in his head that runs up to his stom­ach which helps to drain the wa­ter. Siyanda is also epilep­tic.

His fam­ily be­lieves he is smart enough and would thrive if he was in school.

“I found a spe­cial needs school for him in Vry­heid, [KwaZu­luNatal] they said I must bring him when he can go to the toi­let on his own,” said Shongwe.

Siyanda’s grand­mother, Cather­ine, said the fam­ily had put him in a crèche but he only at­tended for three weeks. They were later told that they could not cope with him.

“I would thank God if we had a school near here,” said Cather­ine.

There are four pri­mary and two high schools in Dag­gakraal. Par­ents of chil­dren with dis­abil­i­ties who spoke to Sowe­tan said they would ap­pre­ci­ate just one school that would cater for their chil­dren.

Par­ents did not know any spe­cial needs school in their area how­ever the near­est one is about 100 kilo­me­tres away in Standerton.

Rose Bhembe em­braces her grand­daugh­ter No­ma­lun­gelo Madon­sela who suf­fers from cere­bral palsy. No­ma­lun­gelo has been home all her life be­cause Dag­gakraal has no school for spe­cial needs pupils.

Lun­gelo Nk­wanyane play­ing alone in the street in Dag­gakraal, Mpumalanga.

Bongek­ile Macupe

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