LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

Mandisa Nxumalo was just two months old when she lost both her legs due to severe burns she sustained during a devastating house fire.

Her tragic start in life hasn’t stop Mandisa from embracing her life’s challenges and become the unique strong-willed young girl she is today.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories

10-year-old Mandisa has been dreaming of going to school for a very long time. ‘She cries herself to sleep most nights wishing to go to school someday’, says Mandisa’s oldest sister, 19-year-old Nkuphiwe.

Mandisa and her family live in Shayamoya Township, just outside Shakaskraal, where there are no schools with facilities to care for disabled children like her.

Mandisa’s mom, 36-year-old Hlengiwe, has another five children but hasn’t been unable to find steady work because Mandisa requires full-time attention. Hlengiwe’s biggest fear is not earning enough money to secure a future for Mandisa and her siblings. ‘If anything happens to me, my children will have no one to care for them, and they’ll be left with nothing, and alone on the street where others will take advantage of them’, says Hlengiwe.

Mandisa’s wish finally became a reality, and she now goes to school. Neighbours and other community members take turns every day to help Mandisa with her wheelchair to make sure she can join her friends and go to the local school near her home.

‘I love drawing and learning English’, says Mandisa’, with a big smile on her face.

LensTraveller - Photojournalist - Feature Stories
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