Limpopo boy defies stigma

Limpopo boy defies stigmaFile photo.

A four-year old Limpopo boy is breaking stigmas around disability.

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Being stigmatised and marginalised hasn’t stopped this youngster from doing his best.

In many countries, a disability is a stigma and disabled children are often hidden by their families and don’t go to school.(File photo)
In many countries, a disability is a stigma and disabled children are often hidden by their families and don’t go to school.(File photo)

In many countries, a disability is a stigma and disabled children are often hidden by their families and don’t go to school. But not for a four-year-old Limpopo boy who is the pride and joy of his mother and teachers.

Ronewa Raulinga, who cannot walk, is a hit at his small village school for disabled children in Musunda village in the Vhembe district.

But it was not always like that him.

A few months ago his mother, Agnes, told of how her greatest sadness was not that her son could not walk, but that other children did not want play with him.

“People are so close-minded. I got very sad in those days when other kids would tease Ronewa when they would pass him,” Agnes said. “Some called him a cow because he could only crawl… some call him a baby.”

This kind of stigmatisation is not unusual against disabled children, according to a United Nations Children’s Fund 2013 report. The report found that ignorance and stigmatisation often lead to disabled children becoming isolated and thus “invisible”.

[quote float = right]He is an inspiration to other children around him”

UNICEF said children with disabilities were among the most marginalised people in the world, and they also suffered stigmatisation and discrimination in both rich and poor countries alike.

But, for Ronewa, being rejected by other children because of his disability didn’t break his spirit. He was adamant to make the most of his time at school and his teachers have noticed it.

Elisa Ndou, one of the teachers at the Tshitunguni day care centre for the disabled that he attends, described him as “very smart boy”.

“He is talented in so many ways. He is good with numbers; good in exercises done in class and good in retaining a lot of the class work.

“He is an inspirational to other children around him,” said Ndou.

“His future is very bright,” she added. “You can see it from the dedication he has for what he does. Everything he does, he wants to do it perfectly and that is why he so brilliant.

“He is going to go places and we as teachers plan to help him all the way,” she added.

Gloria Ralulimi a teacher at Tshitunguni disabled day care center, agreed. She said working with Ronewa and the other children at the centre day in and day out for five days a week was “something I enjoy”.

“Yes it is not so easy to cope with all of them in need of attention but we always find a way to do this. The biggest thing is to accept them as they are,” she said.

Ronewa’s mother is feeling far happier these days since Ronewa has settled well into daycare. “I’m not shy of Ronewa. In fact I am proud of him. His teachers praise him and he is doing well at school.

“He sometimes tries to stand. I tell him to take his time and wait for the right moment. He is always positive about tomorrow and that makes me happy because his disability is not taking over his life.

“I thank God for giving him all the wisdom, strength and knowledge. I am very proud of my son,” she said. – Health-e News

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