The Guard

The Truth On Board

Father raises child living with disability

By Emily Setona

QWAQWA – Jabulani Mthembu, a father raising a disabled child, shared his story of courage with other parents in a similar situation, mostly female.
Mthembu’s experience motivated the parents as he narrated how he learned to accept his child’s condition and patiently learned how they communicate.

He said it was only after this that he started to understand his child’s needs.
“When I found out that my child had a disability, I decided to accept that this is my child and I learned to appreciate their difference and learned how my child communicated and needed to be treated.
“At first my child couldn’t hear but as time went on and they got older and through the love, proper attention, and nurturing, my child’s hearing condition gradually improved and now my child can partially hear.

“As parents we need to accept and love our children and be patient with them; our primary role and responsibility is to love and support our children,” Mthembu said to the parents during a feedback and therapy session.
Mthembu shared his experience during an event organized by Maluti-a-Phofung local municipality mayoral back-to-school campaign programme in partnership with Still I Rise (SIR) foundation and Thabo Mofutsanyana’s Department of Social Development (DSD).

This was a fun filled and therapeutic day that was held at the Phuthaditjaba multipurpose hall on March 9.
Sharing her own experience, Charmaine Thaele the founder of SIR, said her foundation was prompted by her child’s condition.

“I started this foundation because my son is autistic, and I took it upon myself last year to host my first event. This is to raise awareness to parents and society that children with different disabilities need to be seen and to be heard because there is no entertainment and places that accommodate our kids. So my focus is mainly on the entertainment and play aspect of things while the DSD focuses on the bonding between the children and their parents, and giving emotional support and therapy to the parents,” Thaele said in an interview with The Guard.

Addressing the parents, the director of DSD in Thabo Mofutsanyana district municipality Morongoe Mohaleroe praised the fathers that remained present in their children’s lives, because there are numerous cases where fathers leave the mothers alone to raise children with different disabilities because of their own fears and the stigma that is often associated with having children with disabilities.

“It is very encouraging to see fathers of children living disabilities attending events like this and sharing their experiences. It is not easy for mothers who gave birth to children to accept them, it is more motivating when we see fathers also taking the lead.”

Father raising a child living with disability Jabulani Mkhize with executive mayor Masetjhaba Lakaje-Mosia.

In an interview with this publication, Kelebogile Mangoejane said:
“Parents need psychosocial support because it’s not very easy to accept and bear the fact that you’ve been given a child with a disability, forgetting that every child is a gift from God. Some parents struggle to raise their kids, not that they don’t love their children because they do, but some are single parents because some fathers – after realizing that the child has a disability – then say ‘this is not my child’.

“Charmaine’s foundation focuses primarily on play and helping parents to entertain and play with their children. As a social worker I offer psychosocial support to the parents and this is a day for the children to play and parents to know that as the DSD we are here to support them in any way we can.”

The children were treated to a fun filled day where they spent time bonding with their parents through different activities such as painting, playing on jumping castles and water activities in inflated castles. Parents assisted their kids who couldn’t hold their paint brushes, and this created a wonderful bonding session for both parent and child.
For her part Maluti-a-Phofung’s executive mayor Masetjhaba Mosia Lakaje said she had learned a lot from the exercise.