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Tinyiko Gwambe, BackaBuddy

Tinyiko Gwambe, originally from Tshilamba, Limpopo, was born with no arms. Her mother passed away when Tinyiko was only 15. She was then taken from her loving aunt and sent to live with her father. She recalls: “The social workers didn’t have the experience to take care of me. They did not understand my needs.

“For instance, they would get a caregiver who did not even know how to carry me. The painful truth is that sometimes I would go a whole day without eating. It was difficult dealing with the loss of my mom and handling complicated family dynamics. I felt that no one was looking out for me and I felt really alone.”

Her experience inspired her to become a social worker and help others in a similar situation by providing the adequate care and stability she craved as a child. She says: “I noticed how people with disabilities in the rural areas were affected by poor education, which left them having to rely on social grants that barely cover daily expenses, or to seek unskilled jobs.”

In 2015, Tinyiko reunited with her aunt in Pretoria and began studying for her social work degree at the University of Pretoria. As a straight A student, she looks forward to tackling her Master’s degree in 2019. The only obstacle she now faces is mobility.

Currently, she relies on her sister or boyfriend to help her get to lectures, but when they are unable to assist, she relies on public transport, which can be unpredictable and often problematic. Hoping to raise enough funds for a specialised vehicle imported from the UK, Tinyiko has started a campaign on BackaBuddy.

The platform allows people to appeal to the public for donations to crowdfund a cause. “Being a social worker often requires a lot of travelling and field work,” she points out. “To do my job more effectively and even just make it to lectures in the meanwhile, I need to rely on myself. Once this obstacle is overcome, I will use my skills to serve my community.”

The campaign, which went live in April, has raised around R14 000 to date. The ultimate goal is R350 000. To help Tinyiko, you can visit her campaign here. For more information or to start your own campaign, contact BackaBuddy at zane@backabuddy.co.za.

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