MOKOPANE – Mpho (31) was born in Mokopane without arms and only a few fingers on his shoulders, he has Amelia syndrome.
Growing up in a poor family, he was unable to get specialised medical attention to help with his disability. A well-doer and businesswoman, Ruth Modisha, heard about his plight and decided to help him.
“I decided to take him under my wing. He now calls me ‘mama’ sometimes and I am so proud of him. I used to even take care of him in my own home. He is a miracle,” Ruth said.
Read more about Mpho Chabalala's inspriring story in this week's Bosveld*We recommend watching this video with earphones as Mpho is soft spoken
Posted by Bosveld Review on Thursday, 17 May 2018
Mpho moved to Tzaneen at a young age and began attending schools equipped for people with special needs. Here he gained valuable computer literacy skills, completing a level 5 travelling and tourism qualification at Waterberg TVET College after matric.
At the age of nine, Mpho received his first pair of prosthetic arms with the help of sponsors and Ruth. The prosthetic arms cost R47 000.
Mpho said when he first got his prosthetic arms he was very excited as he could now look and feel like the other children.
“I knew I could start playing around and be like them without fear of being teased about my appearance. When I was using the arms, children began teasing me even more and believed that I have robot arms. It hurt me a lot at that age and up until now I have never worn the arms again. I decided to make use of what God gave me, like Ruth encouraged me to do.”
He explained that it was a struggle for him to adapt and learn how to use his feet to accomplish certain tasks. “Sometimes I got so frustrated that I would bite people or throw stones at them because I wasn’t able to do anything. Later on, I came along well and began mastering how to use my feet. I remember in primary school when I had to write exams or tests, I had to write afterwards, otherwise the other learners could not concentrate. They looked at me in a way that also offended me, but now I am fine with it. I learned to cope.”
Upon Bosveld’s visit at his home in Tsamahansi village, we were amazed at what Mpho could do for himself. He makes use of only his feet to do everyday tasks.
“I depend on my feet and I use technology like Bluetooth earpieces so that I don’t have to carry my phone around. Many people might think disabled people are useless and we cannot do anything for ourselves, but that is quite the opposite. Except for cooking all the time, I don’t think there is anything that I cannot do.” He boasted about everything he can do. “I dress myself, I cook for myself, I use my cell phone and computer, I eat, I clean and I can even iron my own clothes. “My legs have adapted well and they are really flexible.”
He can even type messages on his cell phone or the keyboard with his toes. Even putting on shoes with laces is no problem. “When I wear socks it looks like I wear gloves with my toes operating in it like crazy,” he joked.
Mpho encouraged the disabled to make use of what they have despite of their circumstances. “I am not ashamed of who I am. I am proud of what I achieved that non-disabled people could have never dreamt of. I can do anything anyone else can do, maybe even better because I am doing it with my feet.”
He thanked Ruth for taking care of him and motivating him. “I don’t think I could have done it without her.”