This article was written and submitted by Kenneth Mulaudzi, founder of Changing Disabilities. This is his story…
Despite turning to religion and prayer to heal my disability, I had a feeling deep down that I was a wheelchair user for a reason. Ever since I woke up in hospital as a paraplegic, I’ve been told that having a disability is not a mistake and you can’t fix something that isn’t a mistake. I believed with all my heart that there was a purpose.
If only people realised how much it takes for a person who was born walking to later accept themselves as having a disability and to rely on a wheelchair. Acceptance is difficult after your body has been rearranged, torn and left with scars that remind you of your struggles, your pains, your realities and your truth!
It is a mystery, in fact, that should be celebrated and embraced. It is a wonder and a miracle. If only people would stop seeing a person with a disability as someone incomplete who needs healing. We should be grateful to be alive; that we didn’t die from our accident or whatever situation led to our disability and to our reliance on a wheelchair.
It is rare for me to meet someone who doesn’t want to pray for me. Even when I go to a church for a spiritual boost, I will always be made the centre of attention, and people will pray that my body can heal. I can’t describe the effect of this: it bruises my spirit and tires my body. It’s humiliating.
This is not a lack of faith on my part; it’s just me having made peace with who I am and what I have to go through every day. My body sometimes goes into spasms. Anyone with a spinal cord injury (SCI) can tell you how painful it can be and how it tends to happen at the most awkward times. Your body jerks or twitches like you’re some druggie and then convulses as though you’re having a seizure, breaking into involuntary karate moves you never knew you had. While my religious groups want to explain my spasms as religious events, I want to shout: “There is a medical reason for this!”
I truly believe I am not a mistake. I am not bad code. I am not incomplete. I am not sick or possessed. I am not cursed or a burden. There’s nothing wrong with me, my faith or the way I see things.
I just do things sitting down … that’s all. I am complete. I can’t walk, but walking isn’t everything. A person can live a fulfilling life without a limb, sight, hearing or a voice. Having a disability doesn’t mean you need fixing.
Perfection doesn’t exist. Just because your struggles are physical and can be seen by everyone doesn’t mean you are less of a human.
Accept yourself as you are. You are wonderfully made. You matter with one eye or two eyes. You matter with both legs amputated or not, pushing a wheelchair or walking. Your value doesn’t depreciate because of your situation or what people think or say about you.
You are enough. The universe accepts you and celebrates your existence in this life.
This world would be a poorer place without your kindness, your bright smile, your sweet laughter, your wisdom and intelligence. You add value in this life. Find healing within you. Remember that the miracle you are looking for may very well be you!
I decided to start to help others so they didn’t have to go through what I did. I launched Changing Disabilities because I understand only too well how life can change drastically, from being able to walk to depending on a wheelchair, from working in mechanical engineering to being unemployed. The list goes on.
Changing Disabilities is a non-profit organisation that helps people with all types of disability, without discrimination. Currently we work with organisations such as the Gauteng Provincial Association for Persons with Disability, Ithuseng Centre, New Beginnings, Golden Gates Wheelchair Repairs Centre, and One Shoe SA.
What else do we do? Changing Disabilities distributes single shoes to amputees, repairs wheelchairs, donates wheelchairs, crutches and more. We provide one-on-one life-coaching. We assist in caring for those with pressure ulcers, and supply wound dressings, colostomy bags and nappies. However, we desperately require financial funding and would like to get medical companies to help fund supplies for the trauma patients we try to help. Many of them are stuck at home without transport, with no way of taking care of themselves and no medical aid.
Recently Siphiwe Langa joined us on the Changing Disabilities management team. Siphiwe has also been through difficult times, having to overcome hearing and speech challenges.
Recently we’ve started holding disability awareness functions. The next event is on June 16, 2018, with the speaker of the Council Office of Ekurhuleni in attendance. We hope to see you all there!
Changing Disabilities also has a website where people can find out more about the NGO. For more information, simply visit www.changingdisabilities.co.za.
Julia Mulaudzi has also joined Changing Disabilities as a director. Although she is has no physical disability, she is involved in quire a lot of the NGO’s functions and all that it dies. Married to Kenneth, despite his mobility impairments, Julia supports him in all that he does to assist people with disabilities and was inspired to join his organisation.