Humbling Experience

Just before Christmas I had the most incredibly humbling experience. I decided to put a little Christmas cheer into someone else’s life — someone less fortunate. At the end of the day I still feel as if I gained the most out of it all. It’s a long story but I’ll give you the short version. Probably about two years ago I got involved in the lives of two black gentlemen who had recently become quadriplegics. An occupational therapist from the local government hospital called me and asked if I would mind popping in to visit these two guys as they were extremely depressed and she hoped that I could attempt to motivate them by offering them some emotional support and encouragement. So that is how I came to meet Moses Mlombo and July Mathebula. These two guys touched me in an incredibly profound manner with their incredible bravery, high spirits and smiles despite the horrific conditions they were being treated in — a very far cry from the type of hospital and treatment I received after my accident.

Moses was shot in the neck a few meters from his house for a cell phone. He was in grade 11 at the time. When I met him he was almost ready to be discharged from the hospital and all he wanted to do was to finish school and write his matric. He came across as so positive and ambitious and I decided to make it my business to help him achieve his goals. Anyway to cut a long story short I managed to get him into a self-help center for quadriplegics in Johannesburg and he is finally doing very well. He will be studying project management next year. It’s been a long road but I’m so proud of him!

July’s story is even more tragic. He was working on the mines and was the main breadwinner of the family. He was home for holidays and had been drinking at the local tavern. After a fight with his girlfriend he roared off in his car and overturned it breaking his neck. When I met him he had been lying flat on his back in traction staring at a ceiling for two months. In all that time he’d had 2 visits from his mother and that was it — no other visitors! My heart broke for this man. I have been unable to get July into a self-help center due to the fact that he has a pressure sore. The Quad Homes have such long waiting lists and they refuse to consider anyone who has a pressure sore. It’s so frustrating because he is not getting the care he needs. I fear the pressure sore will eventually result in his death — as with so many of the other quads living in the rural areas.

Anyway Moses was home for Christmas. So just before Christmas I got my dad — as driver – my 2 care assistants and myself loaded into my Combi and we set off to fetch Moses and his helper in a large rural area about 45 minutes drive from Nelspruit. Then we literally went into deepest darkest Africa — to a place so far from nowhere — one cannot imagine that people can actually survive there. It was a little village called Tsakane in Bushbuckridge. It took us three hours in total to get there. The condition of the roads are shocking and with two wheelchairs in transit the trip was exceptionally slow. It was also unbearably hot. The air conditioner hardly made a difference. But when we eventually reached July’s house — a shack in the middle of nowhere — and I saw his smile and his entire extended family eagerly awaiting our arrival… it made everything worthwhile. I know that we made a difference in July’s life for at least one day. We sat under the shade of a Marula tree thankfully — although it was the only tree in sight — it was stifling. But nothing could prepare me emotionally enough for the terrible conditions July is having to survive in. I struggled to keep my tears from flowing. I think if there was space in our combi for July I would have brought him home with me. I felt so guilty leaving him behind. Besides his extended family he never sees anyone. He says he has no friends. Both his parents have passed on. His dad was a polygamist with two wives so July is living with his dad’s second wife and seven siblings in the tiniest little house one can imagine. The second wife is now threatening to move out as she no longer wants to take responsibility for caring for July. I just pray that he hangs in there and things work out.

Just writing about all of this is making me extremely emotional. I wish I could do more. At least I know that day made a difference in his life and we took a whole lot of groceries so at least I know they had something decent to eat on Christmas day.

I left there feeling so humbled and realize again how much I have to be grateful for.

Please say a little prayer for all the less fortunate people out there. I hope that in 2010 each of us can make a small difference in someone else’s life.

About Tracy Todd

Although I need a wheelchair to get around, it is most certainly NOT what defines my essence as a woman. I am also a mother, teacher, wannabe writer and an inspirational speaker with a positive outlook on life.
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9 Responses to Humbling Experience

  1. Moses David Mathebula says:

    I personally know July who is a friend to my younger brother Given. My family home is at the west of July’s home along the mountain range if you remember the landscape. I was in contact with him telephonically until some scumbugs stole my phone and lost contact. I haven’t been in contact with him ever-since and the last time I spoke to him he was based somewhere in the Eastrand in Gauteng (probably Germiston).

    If its possible, provide me with his contact details I can arrange a visit to his facility and keep contact with him as I am in the Wastrand (Discovery in Florida: Roodepoort). My contact details are: 0797572635 or 0114712065. Kind regards, Moses.

  2. Bill Watson says:

    Tracy – although I lived in Eswatini I visited many homestead’s like July’s. One thing they know about is survival. I only hope his homestead was a loving homestead – not all are.

  3. felicity says:

    Tracy you are an exceptional person, keep up the good work you are doing. How is July doing, although under those circumstances I suppose no good, I will send up a prayer for him and his family. I work at a rehab centre privately run though, I am also wheelchair bound and I have encountered such sad cases,but then I also have counseled and encouraged the patients that there is life after a wheelchair, thankfully I have reached quite a few patients and given them the hope that life goes on …… quite a few of them come back after discharge and visit and tell me how my encourgement has helped them back in society, then I feel that I have achieved something. Keep up the posts as they are extremely humane and interesting. xx

  4. Wayne says:

    Hi Foxy

    You must keep writting.
    My heart is small but protected, due to all the bad things I have done, but I love you much!

    Wayne Valkner Hammond

  5. Elisha says:

    Dear Tracy,

    We come from different worlds and I believe we met by the will of God. I think you are the most amazing and inspiring person. We all have challenges in life but only a few faced with the challenges like you did, but yet we keep feeling sorry for ourselves. I am honored to know you Tracy.

    Elisha

    • Penny Boden says:

      Hi Tracy

      I have so enjoyed reading your blog. Please keep writing. I LOVE writing and write monthly letters of our different adventures as Warren and I do quite a bit of traveling.
      “Humbling Experience” sure humbled me as I need to learn to count my blessings more often.
      Keep it up
      Penny.

  6. Alice Lewis says:

    HI TRACY, YOU ARE ONE AMAZING PERSON. WE DO QUADS 4 QUADS EVERY YEAR TO RAISE FUND FOR PEOPLE IN NEED OF CHAIRS, REHAB, ETC.
    WE TRAVEL FROM DURBAN TO JOHBURG, HANDING OUT WERE THESE ITEMS ARE NEEDED. I HAVE MET SOME WONDERFULL PEOPLE.
    ARI IS MD FOR QUSA, HE IS ALSO AMAZING MAN, VERY POSITIVE PERSON.
    IT HAS ALSO BEEN GOOD FOR THE KIDS TO COME IN TO CONTACT WITH PEOPLE LIKE YOURSELF, THEY USED TO BE SHY BUT KNOW THE DONT SEE ANY DIFFERENCE. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK.
    REGARDS
    ALICE LEWIS(0832684954)

  7. Lovely story Tracey, and welcome to the world of Blogging!

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