Tinyiko has no hands, but still managed to get her degree in record time


By Thomo Nkgadima

Tinyiko Catherine Gwambe was born with Tetra-Amelia Congenital Syndrome, a disability disorder that confined her to a wheelchair.


The 25-year-old from the township of Tshilamba, near Thohoyandou, has resisted letting her disability prevent her from fulfilling her dream.


Because she has a leg and no hands, she uses her left limp sustained by her cheek to balance a pen when she writes.

She transformed her disability into capability and did things in a unique way.


Thanks to her dedication and perseverance, she graduated from the University of Pretoria with a 4-year Degree in Social Work.


NSFAS provided tuition, accommodation, meals and transportation during her studies.


She is a force to be reckoned with among the disabled people. “Just like a rolling stone when thrown into water, I created waves.


“Living with a disability has never presented disability to me at all. I was born like this and have accepted myself and do things able bodied- persons can do,”Gwambe explained.


She matriculated in 2013 with 2 A’s in Tshivenda and Life Sciences, and 5 Bs in English, Mathematics, Geography, Physical Science and Life orientation.


Since then she never looked back. Not only does she excel academically, she has also won awards such as the Top Social Work Student.


And she was given the opportunity to become a member of Golden Key International Honour Society.

The university would not accommodate her caregivers and she would not stay on campus.


“Despite being sick in my final year of study, I was hospitalized and also tried to study from my hospital bed. As if my trials and tribulation were over my mother died.


“At the time I was writing exams, my wheelchair battery started to give me problems and didn’t have money to replace it.


“But I managed to write my end of the year exams and graduated with Cum Laude. I completed my qualification in record time with an average of 22 distinctions throughout my years of study,” she said.

One of the difficult situations of her life was that of accepting oneself. “Once I accepted myself, I moved on with my life.


“I told myself, I was born like that and there is no changing it. I keep on telling everyone that I became a mother and father figure at an early age.”


Gwambe was born into an impoverished family where both her parents were unemployed.


She said her journey was not a walk in a park. At times, she thought of giving up, but she resisted until she achieved her goal.


She had the choice to live the rest of her life in misery or take full advantage of it. Nobody taught her to use her limp to write, but it came naturally.


She went through life raising her head high to face every obstacle with the utmost courage and showed dedication and perseverance throughout her goal.


Thankfully, she has good friends to help her do things like go to the bathroom.

Edited by Jonk wa Mashamba
jonk@alexreporter.co.za 0782103983

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