His name is Siyanda. In November 2016 we met for an interview to see if he was a good candidate for a learner ship in Business Practices. He has studied engineering, but due to financial constraints was unable to finish. He is very obviously an intelligent young man. Despite him being paralysed from the waist down, and having difficulty getting around using our very inadequate local transport system, when I asked if he could meet me at the Spur in Dundee, he didn’t hesitate to answer “Yes! I’ll be there”. I interviewed around 10 people that day, and he was 1 of 3 who were actually on time.
It didn’t take long to feel inspired by this 24yr old young man. He contracted meningitis when he was just 12yrs old, and after a few days in hospital, he had a stroke, which left him paralysed. His mom from then on has been unable to work, as her sole duty was, and still is, to care for him. His father passed away when he was 6, and so after this tragic turn of events, his mom, himself and 2 siblings (who are still in school) had to survive solely on his disability grant.
He does not complain about anything, and when I asked what he does with his days, I was very intrigued as he told me about the volunteer work he does at the Local Community Centre as the treasurer and how he has recently opened up an NGO (which he is almost finished registering) called Siyanda Community Development Centre. For a few years now he has been running community workshops in arts and culture, HIV & AIDS awareness workshops, karate sessions, talent shows and many more. I asked what he gets paid for this, the answer is simple – Nothing!
He says to me very matter-of-factly, “I am already disabled, I don’t want my life to mean nothing! I will do what I can, no matter what!”
Needless to say this inspiring young man is now on our learnership. He has embraced me as his mentor, and passes many ideas for his future plans for Siyanda Community Development Centre past me. And he has big dreams.
His home is small with narrow doorways, all the furniture is packed as far into the corners as it’ll allow so that he can get through on his rather bulky, old, (heavy) wheel chair. His brother and dainty mum help him around the home.
There are so many people around here who have so many more opportunities given to them , that squander them and take then for granted. He is doing so much with the little that he has. Siyanda, you are an inspiration to us all.
-Kristie Paine (Trainer/Mentor)