There’s no such thing as impossible – and it’s time for the South African government to do more to include people with disabilities so that they might achieve what was previously thought impossible.
As someone with a disability you are not meant to believe it is possible to be independent and lead a fruitful life. I say the impossible doesn’t exist. Every day we see people with disabilities in difficult situations driving change in their own lives and transforming local economies.
I’ve seen them go from having very little job prospects to climbing the corporate ladder. I’ve noticed that people with disabilities have one thing in common: upliftment of the society in which they live. They continue to set trends by disrupting and breaking stereotypes about what it means to have a disability.
What impresses me most about people with disabilities is that most are visionaries whose dreams have inspired and equipped hundreds of young people from remote communities with the capacity to change their surroundings forever.
Then again, with all the potential and abilities that people with disabilities have, we still live in country where the challenges facing people with disabilities are mostly ignored. The country keeps failing to integrate people with disabilities. President Cyril Ramaphosa didn’t even include people with disabilities in his 2019 state of the nation address (Sona).
The narrative of government following democracy in South Africa has been that people with disabilities need help – as if we are the poor in need. It continues to say: “We have a budget for people with disabilities.” However, government forgets one very important thing… to ask us what we want!
The South African government has to realise that it is not a question of money, but rather of the need to improve the integration of people with disabilities. It has to understand the challenges that are faced by people with disabilities and acknowledge that those challenges are different from those faced by people without physical disabilities.
It is imperative that we all take a stance in advocating for inclusion in all spheres of life. We need to speak loudly, work hard and always remember the cause. Previous generations sacrificed a lot for all South Africans – not only the able-bodied. We need to open up our hearts and minds and see that there is “ability” in the word “disability”; that the world “able” lives in the word “disabled”!
In a nutshell, although I can’t walk, even though I get around on two wheels, I can still do everything I put my mind to – just in a different way. My way of doing things is not any better or worse, just different. There is no limit. It doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from. The most important is where you plan to be!
Lebohang Monyatsi was diagnosed with polio at the age of three. She studied at North-West University and now resides in Vanderbijlpark, where she works in human resources. In 2017, she travelled to Sweden to participate in the Miss Wheelchair World competition and was crowned First Princess.