Tshegofatso Mmakola from Project Miracle Wheels shares the story of Martin Madibane Phalane – founder of Phalane Miracle Wheel Repairs, a beneficiary of Enactus UP.
In a world where magic doesn’t exist, miracles are the closest we come to experiencing magic. And miracles are so rare that, when one happens, you want to share it with the whole world. One miracle, in particular, saved a life but also aligned it with purpose. This is the story of Martin Madibane Phalane, also known as Ntate Phalane, the Miracle Man.
His story begins with a car accident that left him in a coma for more than six months. With no hope left, his family decided to switch off the machines. However, Phalane miraculously woke up! He lost his leg in the accident and relied on a wheelchair during rehabilitation, but grew strong enough to use crutches.
During his recovery process he joined the Tembisa Self-Help Association of the Disabled (TSHAD), where he taught himself to repair wheelchairs and shared the skill with other people with disabilities.
Enactus University of Pretoria (Enactus UP) was drawn to Phalane’s potential and positive energy. The non-profit organisation is made up of a community of students, academics and business leaders who strive to impact lives through entrepreneurial action for sustainability in communities.
Together they started Phalane Miracle Wheel Repairs (PMWR) in 2017. The business customises, repairs, washes and assembles wheelchairs. Phalane now works at Ithembelihle LSEN school in Germiston, too, helping physiotherapists repair wheelchairs for children with physical disabilities.
PMWR aims to change the quality of life and standard of living for people, and to influence society. The business has also offered Phalane with a second chance to earn a living and help the community of people with physical disabilities.
“I got my second chance and because of this,” Phalane says. “I don’t pray to God but thank Him through the wheelchairs.” Although Phalane’s story is a miracle, it also teaches us that it isn’t about what the miracle does for you but how you can be the miracle for others.
He did not allow what had happened to him isolate him from society but instead believed in his potential and ability to achieve whatever he sets his mind to. Phalane lives according to the common phrase, “Life is ten percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react.”
A miracle man indeed, Phalane is wheeling change one wheelchair at a time.