Two young men living above their disabilities met at a Luke Commission outreach recently. One was a patient; the other was an exuberant, ever-smiling staff member.
|Celumusa talks to Siyabonga about his new mobility cart.
The meeting was not arranged. It didn’t even start out as a friendship. That’s why it was so touching to watch the scene unfold.
Siyabonga and his mother came to the outreach to ask The Luke Commission for a new mobility cart. The 15-year-old boy, who talked more with his eyes than his lips, had outgrown and given away the child cart given to him in 2014 by TLC and Mobility Worldwide (then called PET).
|The move from here to there is not easy.
This day Siyabonga came in a worn wheelchair, pushed a long way by his mother Sibongile.“I did not have to go to the shops and try to buy this cart,” she said. “This new cart will be good in our area that has notorious valleys. It’s hard to use wheelchairs here.”
TLC staff member Celumusa helped assemble the new cart, as Siyabonga watched quietly, grinning so slightly in anticipation.
|“Let me explain,” says Celumusa.
Celumusa has worked for The Luke Commission eight months. In that time, he has been “so happy, and now I wish to live my entire life helping needy people. I find my home at TLC.”
Celumusa’s grandmother told him he was injured at birth during delivery in 1993. He limps on his right side when he walks, and his right arm “can’t carry big things. But I am strong enough,” he assures everyone who might wonder.
|“You’re ready to go, my brother…”
Not wanting the disabled label attached to his life, Celumusa said, “I used to tell myself I’m just like other people. Now I live with normal people, and that makes me normal.”
Almost as excited about the new cart as the recipient, Celumusa helped Siyabonga get situated behind his new wheels, explaining with laughter how to use the new brake. Then Siyabonga took a spin around the schoolyard.
|Leaving is sometimes so sweet.
“I am very happy and thankful for this big gift,” said Siyabonga. “I’m happy to go fast in such a chair.”
Siyabonga is the third of five children in the family. When he was 7 years old, his mother learned he had tuberculosis. It was not diagnosed, however, until the disease attacked his backbone. “The TB has healed completely,” she said, “but we discovered it too late, and after that he could not walk.”
|See this trio of happiness—TLC staff, TLC patient, and his mother.
A metal plate was placed in his backbone, his mother explained. “My boy’s feet no longer step in a normal way.”
Siyabonga’s new friend Celumusa encouraged him with a quiet display of his strength forged in the crucible of weakness. (Neither does Celumusa’s right foot “step in a normal way.”) Siyabonga helped load the mobility cart into the back of a community leader’s pickup. He made sure Siyabonga was comfortable and close to his new cart for the ride home.
|Time to load both the old chair and the new cart, plus the owner, in the back of a neighbor’s pickup for a ride home.
“Goodbye, my friend,” waved Celumusa.
“I wish to do great things for and with The Luke Commission,” noted Celumusa at age 26. “I’m growing in my Christian life since coming to TLC. I do not want to stop.”
|He may be shy, but his grateful expression reaches his eyes.
Celumusa’s assignments vary at outreaches from working in the TOMS shoe truck fitting new shoes on children, to giving eye exams and reading glasses in Room 9 vision department, to assisting boys in Room 6 as they await surgical procedures. “I like chatting with the boys.”
As they do with him! Chatting and relating is Celumusa’s specialty.
|“Goodbye, my friend.”
And we who watch know we have been privileged to experience something extraordinary.
by Janet Tuinstra, who simply happens upon stirring stories…