I grew up in Worcester in the Western Cape. There is a school for the Blind and otherwise sight-impaired. There is a school for the Deaf and otherwise hearing-impaired. Both schools are over a hundred years old and of amazingly high standards, both ethically and efficiency. Then there are various homes where adults are housed. All of various kinds of “other-abledness”. Worcester is larger than Ermelo and many adaptations were made in town, long before “other-abledness” became a topic of awareness.
The robots all are equipped with 2 little sirens that indicate the Green Light at every crossing. The squash courts are equipped with a red light embedded in the standard tin plate. Special dance floors, peg-boards for chess sets and many more adaptations where part of our “normal” life.
In 1996 Marius and I got married, and I learned the life of a man with only one foot. In 1991 he was in a motorbike accident, and the remains of his foot contracted gangrene in hospital, and had to be amputated. Through Marius’ example, I learned that disability, or other-abledness does not have to be the defining identity attribute about a person.
There is a 30 something man that has recently joined our team. He lives in Pretoria and has a passion for markets. He sells our Quercus Raw Honey Products at some of the amazing markets, running on weekends, in Gauteng. He is a gifted entrepreneur and a blessing to us. He is other-abled, with what to some people may seem as great disadvantages. His one side is weaker than the other, which means problems with mobility and use of the one arm. He also has a speech impediment, but do not think that he let this holds him back. No, he has an APP on his phone that reads the product information in Audio to potential customers. The APP is linked to our website, and if the customers has questions, the answers on the website is then read aloud to them by the voice APP. He has a young man on his team that is his driver and that carries the heavy boxes for him. Job-creation! He already recruited some other friends and family to work for him at markets. He pays them, of course.
Then there is a person in our mentoring team that also has a level of different-abledness. We discovered this great multi-dissiplinary facility in Nelspruit called Stepmed. They run a special program that is called Functional Analysis. The client takes part in an individualised 3 hour assessment by top specialised occupational therapists. A feedback session is then presented to the client, parents, mentors or employers. This allows for a detailed plan to be developed of how to set this person up for success. To work with their strengths. To understand what is fair and realistic expectations. To really tap the individual’s potential so as to allow them to grow into the person that God created them to be.
Sometimes a pregnancy needs to be terminated, because the suffering of the other-abled little one will simply be to great. We honour that too. We salute every individual with other-abledness. Also the parents, spouses, siblings, family and friends in their circle. It is not easy. Often it is downright tough! My encouragement is this. We have dear, dear people in our lives that does not fit the boxes. To us a meaningful life is a life of contribution. Can we enable the other-abled people around us in any way so that we position them to be able to bring a contribution? To bring their unique contribution, is that not the highest kind of living?