Growing up disabled

Mpumalanga has the country's fourth highest maternal mortality rate (File photo)
Children, especially those living with HIV, are particularly vulnerable to Pneumonia
Children, especially those living with HIV, are particularly vulnerable to Pneumonia

“I cried the day I gave birth to my son because I had always wanted a son,” Egnes remembers.

As the years went by, Egnes slowly realised that Ronewa had been born unable to stand or walk.

“I started to realise it when he was a year old,” she tells OurHealth. “He couldn’t stand or walk, (but) I thought maybe he was only a late (learner).”

Although he currently gets around by crawling, Ronewa – who attends a local school for disabled children – will eventually need a wheel chair.

The Raulingas’ neighbour Maungedzo Khalushi says Ronewa has grown into a bright, young child.

“He is a very smart boy,” adds Khalushi, who takes him to school each day and says he loves Ronewa as if he were his own. “He is always counting numbers or talking about what he wants to be when he grow up.”

“I feel it is a blessing for me to have him as my son,” Egnes adds. “I appreciate him and his condition, and I don’t see any difference between him and my other children.”

Egnes says that one of her greatest challenges with Ronewa’s disability has not been his inability to walk, but the close mindedness of others.

“I get very sad when other kids tease him when they pass by,” Egnes tells OurHealth. “Some call him a cow because he can only crawl… some call him a baby.”

“You can see in his eyes that he wants to play with other children, but they are never around to play with him – they only pass by,” adds Ronewa’s older sister, Tshilidzi.


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