Inside the world of a girl without hands

0307-1-1-IMAG0099Kelvin Chiringa Cool Lifestyle Reporter
The days are cold and business is low at the braai stands of one of Harare’s famous joints, Mereki. An occasional rush of the wind lifts up papers, twirling them in the air before dropping and scattering them in the red soils of Warren Park D.

As this reporter makes his way towards a house nearby in the wind and chilly weather, a seemingly solo female figure standing by a verandah looms up.

This is Spiwe Mbano (18). She will not shake hands as a gesture of greeting. Her condition does not permit, yet the warm smile which crosses her face as she greets this reporter is enough of a handshake.

But Spiwe does not have hands.

She has lived all her life like that and this is her story, that of an ordinary young girl who lived an ordinary life in an incredibly extraordinary way.

“My story is not new, but this story although told and understood better by people who live with my kind of disability will always be told.

“The intention is not to attract the sympathy of people that at times sadly reduces us into secondary citizens, but to keep on sending the message that disability does not mean inability.

“In doing so I wish perhaps that this story, told many times might inspire even those without a disability,” she began.

Currently doing Form Three at Rock Mountain College in Warren Park D, the former Jairos Jiri School of the Disabled student said she was born without hands and she became aware of her disability the first day at school.

“Most people might think I had a serious accident of some sort and got both of my hands amputated, but I was just born without them.

“The naturally sweet atmosphere of home and family never made me conscious that I was somehow different until I started going to school and met children whose stares made me realise my difference,” she said.

Despite having no hands Mbano has beaten the odds and worked on her flexible legs to do almost everything that able-bodied children of her age could do.

“I like doing my things myself and that includes bathing, sweeping, washing clothes and writing my own notes.

“I need help perhaps with my buttons and a few things my legs can’t master, however one of my passion is in drawing,” said Mbano.

So good is she with her legs that her note books are covered in neat handwriting and she thinks nothing of occasionally scratching her face with her toes.

Asked how she dealt with people in the streets and whether she was still feeling a sense of marginalisation, Mbano had this to say.

“People who do not know me will always stare but I am now used to all of that, I live a very ordinary life and enjoy the same music and trendy clothing as does the rest of my age mates.

“I just ignore the stares and make sure I work hard on my studies, make friends, laugh and enjoy life as it comes and attending church at Jesus Reigns Ministries where I enjoy dancing,” she said.

The well pressed clothes she wears and natural goodness of her skin is clear testimony that the 18- year-old is a good friend of water and her neatness surpasses the standards of many of her peers.

“I am not a lazy person and I do not wish anyone to be, disability is not inability, such a condition as mine should never be the basis of one’s laziness.

“I look forward to a prosperous nation and world created by young people who are self-made into powerful entrepreneurs with unlimited visions,” she emphasised.

Mbano has a plan to one day own a school for the disabled and travelling extensively teaching people how to run business.

Kelvin Chiringa is studying journalism and a regular contributor to Cool Lifestyle

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