Rabelani Mukondeleli (31) gave birth to her disabled son in 2013. He lived for only a year, but her experience gave her a deep understanding of the challenges faced by the parents of disabled children.
Fueled by her own pain, she established the Care Giver Foundation – an organisation that aims to support and improve the lives of disabled children.
“What I went through after the birth of my son taught me to respect and appreciate all parents who are raising disabled children. Raising a disabled child requires one to be strong mentally,” said Mukondeleli.
Through the Care Giver Foundation, Mukondeleli hopes to restore hope to disabled children by making sure that they are well looked after, taken to schools and provided with essential needs such as wheelchairs. Mukondeleli said many parents in rural Vhembe continue to hide their disabled children at home and not send them to school out of fear of being judged by their communities.
Mukondeleli’s child was diagnosed as disabled soon after his birth. She was devastated when she was told he would never learn to do anything for himself.
The experience led her to partner with 11 other people who had similar vision to establish a Care Giver Foundation.
“After my late son was born, I was depressed and couldn’t cope at all. To have a disabled child is not something which is easy to accept. I still remember when I was told that my son was disabled. The news left me traumatised, not knowing what to do next,” said Mukondeleli.
The foundation, which was officially launched in June 2017, is starting to make a difference in the lives of disabled children in Vhembe. It is currently raising funds to purchase wheelchairs for 11 disabled children in the area.
Mukondeleli hopes to restore hope to disabled children by making sure that they are well looked after, taken to schools and provided with essential needs such as wheelchairs.
“If one does not get proper support from relatives, friends and the community it becomes more difficult to accept the disability that your child has. People need to understand that no one chooses to have a disabled child,” she said.
“I become very emotional when I see some people mistreating children living with disabilities. Children are from God and we should not discriminate against them because of their disabilities. Parents must also refrain from hiding their disabled children, denying them their rights to education and health,” she said.