Disability and possibility

Edward Ndopu says the words disability and possibility belong in one sentence

27 August 2019 | Education

Justicia Shipena

Diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy at age two and given only five years to live, Edward Ndopu has become a bonfire of hope and possibility for people living with disabilities around the world.

Ndopu, with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), visited the Side by Side Early Intervention Centre in Goreangab informal settlement in Windhoek on 21 August.

His visit was aimed at motivating and educating parents of children living with disabilities and he also spent time with the little ones.

Addressing the parents, Ndopu said them being at the centre is testament to their resilience and belief that they have in their children; that one day they will grow up to become extraordinary people.

Ndopu added his journey to this point was possible because his mother believed in him and that a child with a disability can grow up to be a visionary adult.

At age seven Ndopu pressed his mother to enrol him at school and he eventually got into Van Rhyn Primary School.

He said people should start seeing the magic and beauty that people with disabilities represent, as they have so much value to bring to their communities.

"It’s about moving beyond survival. I just don't want people with disabilities to survive, I want to see them thrive, I want them to be absolutely magnificent people," he said.

Ndopu left the parents with the words: “The words disability and possibility belong in one sentence.”

Huipie van Wyk, the director of Side by Side Early Intervention Centre, shared her experience as a parent of a child living with a disability.

Van Wyk said over the last four years she did intensive research on what her daughter would need to have a quality life.

“During the process of keeping my family together, we found a little boy with a severe disability and who was malnourished. Using my daughter’s trust we raise enough funds to hospitalise him,” she said.

According to Van Wyk, Side by Side caters not only for children who live with disabilities, but for the parents and guardians who live with them.

“The centre offers a daycare and rehabilitation. Although a lot of children do attend our centre from 7:30 to 16:00, we focus on rehabilitating the whole family by educating them,” she said.

Van Wyk added that for about four months Side by Side was involved in a neuro clinic, where children who were born prematurely were evaluated again.

One of the parents said she was grateful and that Ndopu’s visit motivated her to not give up on her child.

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