“I need an electric wheelchair”
“I’m Selina Lehloo from Khuma. I’m using a wheelchair. I was born like this. I’m 25-years-old. I failed matric in 2011, but I didn’t give up”.
Lehloo was born with osteogenesis imperfecta, a congenital disorder that weakens the bones and which bound her to a wheelchair for life. She is now in desperate need of an electric wheelchair to help her get around. Hailing from a township in Klerksdorp, she says life in a wheelchair has been difficult for her. “Growing up was not easy, I couldn’t accept the fact that I had to use a chair for the rest of my life.”
She started school in 2004 at Westrand Primary School in Gauteng. However, struggling with Afrikaans, after three years, she was taken out of that school and sent to another in Mafikeng where she did both her primary and secondary education. In 2011, she failed her matric because of low scores in Accounting. She returned last year to retake her matric examination and failed once again. She then enrolled at Vuselela College for a three year office administration course.
Growing up, Lehloo said she had no friends near home and stayed indoors. The few friends she had, she met at school. She had help from her parents but was mostly away from home because she boarded at school at a younger age.
Her younger brother Thato Phapedi said life is also difficult for him.
“She needs to be pushed around and when she goes to school, I have to go with her. She takes three taxis to school and sometimes I don’t have money to come back and attend my classes. After I accompany her, I come back then have to walk to my own college, it’s a 45 minute walk to my own school. It gets even tougher when it rains because her wheelchair cannot move properly through the mud.”
Twenty-five year old Phapedi says there are eight of them in the house including his parents. His father works as a truck driver in Pretoria and only comes home once a month. “We cannot afford private transportation for Selina because right now she spends about R700 on taxi fare a month and private transport would cost like R2000 a month”.
Lehloo said: “All I need right now is an electric wheelchair because my hands and arms are getting tired fast and I am always late for classes and people sometimes don’t want to push me. The problem is I cannot afford it as the only money I have is from my disability grant.”
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