It always seems impossible until it is done.” – Nelson Mandela.
“Me, judgmental? Of course not! … that’s how I saw myself until I met Meniswa. I was in Africa, six months into my 2 year physiotherapy assignment with NZ Volunteer Services Abroad.
“Come with me, Mary” said the tireless Xhosa social worker. “I want you on this home visit”. We endured the usual bumpy ride on the potholed Transkei road, and then walked across the fields to reach a house. It looked reasonably comfortable, by Transkei standards. So far so good.
There was no response to our knocks and calls. We wandered around the back of the house, past goats and chickens. We found our client, a 16 year old with severe athetoid cerebral palsy. She was slithering around on a grass mat filthy with flies, chicken droppings and blood from her period. A dilapidated wheelchair was parked nearby. The cheerful chickens were her only company.