Disabled teen seeks assistance to pursue studies

His father refused to accept him when he was born, telling his mother to wrap him in a black plastic and throw him away.

21 October 2021 | Local News

Enzo Amuele







OTJIWARONGO

Metarere Tjihenuna (19) was born with a rare defect, Phocomelia Syndrome, which causes infants to have arms and/or legs that are severely shortened or completely absent.

Tjihenuna's legs were severely shortened, necessitating surgery. Hailing from Otjiwarongo’s Ombili informal settlement, he has had to face both his disability and the lack of electricity and toilets.

Bullying at school is another of the challenges he faces, as fellow learners call him names.

"My peers make fun of me because I am short, can't walk properly and I’m a dwarf,” he said.

“As I have accepted my disability, these statements keep me going daily.”

He added growing up without a father shaped him into a strong and hardworking young man.

“I have never seen my father, nor do I know what he looks like,” he said.

Tjihenuna hopes that someone will come to his aid and help him pursue his dreams of becoming a nurse or paramedic. He also requested assistance from members of the public and government in the construction of a toilet for his Ombili residence.

‘Throw him away’

The teen’s mother, Magdalena Tjihenuna (40), said his father, her husband at the time, refused to accept him. She remembered the father telling her to wrap the baby in a black plastic and throw him away, but she refused.

"The father once came to where I was staying in Okakarara with a big knife with the intention of killing my son, and I was lucky enough to run away with my boy to the police station, and that is how I left the marriage," she narrated.

The mother of four said her child is a gift from God and requested any help she can get because she is currently unemployed and relies on random domestic work around town to make ends meet.

"The monthly grant is not really sufficient because Metarere is a very sensitive boy who sometimes needs to eat certain foods at times that I cannot afford," she said.

Tjihenuna’s aunt, Uaonga Ujamba, described him as a hardworking and disciplined young man.

"He has accepted his disability and is doing what is best for him to survive. Last December, he got a job in Shoprite and used the little money he got to buy his school uniform and books to help his mother," she said.

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