Despite losing two biological children, Sithembile Ncube has had the privilege of being a mother through being a caregiver to a paraplegic child.
Sithembile Ncube grew up in Mberengwa where she attended school up to Grade 2. She failed to continue her education due to her parents splitting up. At a young age, she and her brother went to live with extended family members, but in actuality, were left to fend for themselves.
“In order to put clothes on our backs, l had to work in people’s fields since our parents had remarried after the split,” Sithembile told The Weight She Carries. “We had to perform difficult chores before and after school. It all became too much for me. l decided to run away. Little did l know that l was moving from the pot and into the fire because l faced a number of attempted rapes [by] my mother’s husband as well as the son to one lady l was working for. l decided to leave both places. It is painful up to today. l think of it and tears just fall down my cheeks.”
From attempted rape to living in a public toilet, Sithembile still carried on. She finally found work in a salon where she worked for years. She even managed to take care of her mother who had divorced her second husband by then. She refused to relocate to the UK so she could care of her mother.
“I know what it is to be homeless, hungry and without clothes, and l have learnt that such situations do not kill…God gave me a caring heart and that is my gift,” she said.
And that’s how Sithembile ended up being a caregiver for over 15 years to a disabled child, Simba. In fact, the community calls her by the child’s name up to this day.
After returning to Zimbabwe from Botswana, Sithembile stayed with her step-sister who introduced her to Simba’s mother.
“I used to help him with physiotherapy since l had done a Red Cross course. They eventually called me to stay with them so that l could become a more permanent [caregiver] for Simba,” she said. “When l first met him, it was clear that he was kept hidden from society. People did not know that there was a crippled child living there. He had no clothes and was in a bad state.”
Simba’s parents would stay out late drinking, Sithembile said. In 2004, she volunteered at Jairos Jiri, a home for disabled persons, so Simba could get proper care and later joined another organisation which dissolved, unfortunately.
Sithembile began to care for Simba at home. He lived a difficult life due to being a paraplegic. Every night he required assistance in eating, shifting positions and changing his diapers. Professional care was hard to get since she was now providing care for Simba at home. Her pastors encouraged her often, which helped her through the trying times of taking care of Simba. When his parents split up, life became even more difficult. He was dependent on her and her pay was often delayed.
“Simba was often ill as any other child with this type of disability would be. Over the years we were in and out of hospital, sometimes for up to two months. When he passed away last year without being ill, l was devastated.” Sithembile said.
“In all the hardships l have been through l have learnt to love, persevere and endure through the various situations. Another valuable lesson is to forgive. l forgave all those that had erred against me over the years. Even my step-father passed away knowing that l had forgiven him.”Sithembile Ncube
Sithembile continues to live with Simba’s family. Because of the care and love she gave Simba, the family pledged a herd of cows and goats to her as well as a house.