Going from being an able-bodied teacher to being paralyzed is not easy, especially when your partner who vowed to be with you through thick and thin files for divorce. The following story is about 57-year-old Sharai Makota who was involved in an accident that changed her whole life and how she managed to get back on her feet. This is her story:
“In 2010 I was involved in an accident which left me paraplegic. I was travelling in the back of a pick-up truck which was involved in a double collision. I had a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken arm and a raptured diaphragm and was in pain. I kept asking God to keep me alive for the sake of my children. Yes, I did survive but because of the spinal injury, I now use a wheelchair.
“Soon after the accident, my husband left me. He clearly told me that he could not stand living with a disabled woman. He walked out on me and filed for divorce. Even though we were married according to Section 5.11 of the Constitution, he failed to stick to me through sickness and health. He forgot to be with me through happiness and pain, something he had vowed to do. It was very difficult for me at first, but I had to accept it. It felt like a dream but in the long run the truth came; he never came back home.
“I had to start fending for myself; he stopped taking care of me and the children. There I was, I could not walk, living in a totally different world and I had to take care of the family as well with no one to support me. My life had totally changed. Being in the wheelchair is something which cannot be easily tolerated especially in my case. I am a graduate secondary school teacher and I used to do everything for myself, but now it was the direct opposite.
“Fast-forward to 2018 that is when I started mapping my way forward. I met the Member of Parliament for my constituency (Themba Mliswa) and he was hosting motivational programs for women. At first it was not easy because I would meet people I used to have the same kind of life with, my counterparts.
“The very year I got involved in the accident a lot was derailed in my life. I had applied for a mine. I had bought my prospecting license with the help of a pegger (approved prospector). Plans to pursue mining had been shut for a long time but these motivational speakers made me start thinking about mining again. I got myself busy listening to inspiring audios and reading motivational articles. I knew I was not the only one and that I could also make it. I started going with the motto ‘disability does not mean inability.’
“One day which I still recall; we had a female motivational speaker from the Ministry of Mines and she was really good. I made the resolve to get back into mining but I did not know how to go about it. Fortunately in my area there are people who were into chrome mining. I joined it but we were not making much profit because we were using manual labor. I then decided to buy and sell chrome instead and it was really sustainable. I now wanted to push to get proper documentation and buy my own claim.
“My documents took a long time to get processed and I had to go to Chinhoyi (Mashonaland West Provincial capital, Zimbabwe). There I explained my situation and I told them I did not want to end up in the streets begging because of my condition. Fortunately they assisted me at a time when some people were waiting for two to three years.
The problem came when my claim was to be pegged. I had paid to have 91 hectares but when the surveyor came he said I could only get 37 which was not even half of what I paid for and my money was not reimbursed. I was really affected and felt I had been taken advantage of but there was nothing I could do.
“The challenge I am facing now is I exhausted all my funds trying to acquire the claim but now I need help or risk losing the claim if there is no production. The mine could be forfeited because I have no money to do the assay report which will determine the amount of chrome on the claim. Right now all I make is passed from hand to mouth. If I could get assistance then it will be easier to get an investor and the mine will start functioning properly.
Phoebie Shamiso Chigonde is a journalist passionate about gender equality, social development programmes and grassroots-based solution seeking initiatives. She has a passion for women and community development. Phoebie is also a radio personality at a regional commercial radio station, a platform that enables her to network with like-minded women, journalists and activists as she continues to document and tell the story of the ordinary woman from the lens of that very ordinary woman.