By Maggie Mabaleng
The Adelaide Tambo School in Soweto, South of Johannesburg, is home to 381 physically challenged learners, with the school hostel catering for 150 learners. The learners have a range of skills, as the school offers a curriculum that is diverse, such as recreational elective subjects like music, bead work, hair dressing and cosmetology, amongst others.
The school principal, Lindela Memani, envisions bettering the school by offering learners skills development programmes and ensuring that the rights of people with disabilities are protected.
Memani described his learners as active leaners who display talent not only with their heads, but with their hands as well. He said that although his job comes with challenges, he enjoys it because he learns something new every day.
“For me, Nelson Mandela International Day means a day for service, where we volunteer in the community to help others,” said Memani.
The principal also said he aims to keep the spirit of Adelaide Tambo, struggle icon and the African National Congress (ANC) Veteran alive by ensuring that the Adelaide Tambo School is an institution of excellence, and that the rights of people with disabilities are protected.
Gladys Motsitsi, one of the teachers from the school, said that learners with physical challenges need to be loved. Gladys described passion as an important aspect to be able to excel in everything that you do.
16 year old Lesego Talake is a grade 8 learner at the school; she suffers from scoliosis, a condition when a person’s backbone is curved to the side.
Talake aspires to be a doctor someday, because she is passionate about helping others. She describes her love for writing, especially poetry, as a way she deals with the difficulty of living with her condition.
“People do not understand my condition,” she said.
Talake admits that she sometimes feels unappreciated and sad; she overcomes these feelings by writing them down and also living her life as best as she can.
She described horse riding as one of her hobbies, the learners from Adelaide Tambo School for the physically challenged go for horse riding in Krugersdorp, in the Mahikeng province on Mondays; lesego enjoys it because it relaxes her and gets her mind off things.
Dineo Tinyane is enrolled at the school under the skills programme, she chose to enroll for catering and bead work.
She would like to become a fashion designer because she had always had an interest in fashion; she hopes to see her designs being showcased in New York someday.
Tinyane suffers from a mental condition of short memory, her mother plays a vital role in her life as she inspires her to be confident in herself, and not let her learning barriers define her.
19 year old Thato Motaung is in grade 10 and aspires to be in the information technology sector when he completes his matric because he enjoys working with computers, and he also plays table tennis for fun.