Nothemba in her office
Nothemba in her office

My name is Nothemba Makwela. I’m a 22 year old Quadriplegia.

I was born with a disability called Athrogryposis. It’s a muscle condition which causes the range of motion of a joint to be limited. The condition occurs in numerous joints of the body or in only a few. This may lead to the inability to walk and can also limit the growth of arms, hands, legs, and feet.

I matriculated at Northern Lights School (Port Elizabeth) in 2012. Due to financial reasons I could not study further. I came to APD in May 2013 as an intern. When I came to APD I knew nothing about work.

At that moment transport was my biggest challenge so I had no choice but to take the LIBHONGOLETHU (Integrated Public Transport System) bus to go to work and back home. I had to get out of the house at 06h10 and ride with my chair from 5th Avenue Newton Park to Greenacres under the Bridge. I got there at about 06h40. The bus came at 06h50 and it dropped
me in front of the new Law Courts at 07h25. I would then ride with my chair to APD. Luckily APD
supplied me with a flag so that I could be visible when I rode with my chair in between cars and trucks.

After a while the LIBHONGOLETHU bus service stopped operating so I asked my uncle to assist me with transport but that did not work because it drained me financially. I decided to move from Newton Park to Motherwell.

Today APD has made things much easier by picking me up and dropping me off in APD’s specially adapted bus.

Nothemba on the switchboard
Nothemba on the switchboard

Operating the switchboard is part of my duties and that was a challenge for me because I am unable to use the handset due to my limited hand function. A headset was bought for me so that I am able to fulfil my duties. I went from being unable to being able, and from there I took it one day at a time and I’ve learnt so much.

I have to answer the switchboard, open the reception doors, and assist the clients that enter APD’s premises.

Improved communication is the biggest tool I have gained from the switchboard. The skills I learned at the switchboard have helped me so much that it’s easy for me to make appointments.

My other duties that keep me busy include sorting files, sending & receiving emails, updating forms, updating the Recruitment database and stats information, receiving and typing new CVs and application forms, assisting Xhosa speaking applicants, and typing my weekly reports.

Thank you APD for being patient and believing in me. You have helped make my dream of becoming a working, independent woman come true.