Nomasango Tshefu was born at Nonibe Location in King Williamstown, Eastern Cape. She was raised by a strict mother,Nomawethu Tshefu and her father, who dabbled as a bus driver and farmer.
Nomasango obtained her basic education schooling at Nonibe Primary School. She completed her higher grades at Zimlindile High School. After high school, she went to Mdantsane to train as a teacher at Rubusana Training College. After completing her studies, she was hired at Tyhusha Primary School. Tshefu worked there for three years before followed by a transfer to Nontsikelelo Junior Primary in Mdantsane. During this period, she read for her B.A. degree at Fort Hare University.
In 1997 when Nomasango like other young women was looking forward to exploring what life had in store for her a life changing incident befell her.
“When I was about to graduate my ex-boyfriend shot me. While I was being pumped with bullets by my partner my two young children who were in the house had to endure this. I spent about ten days in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Life Hospital. I was then transferred to Libertas Hospital in Cape Town”, said Tshefu.
“It was all so surreal. It was in Cape Town where it dawned on me that I would never be able to walk again”, recalls Tshefu.
During this time, her eldest daughter was attending school. Tshefu was under a lot of emotional strain as she was no longer in a position to work. At the end of the day, she had to see to it that school fees and transport were paid. Tshefu’s hospital stay meant she could not monitor her children. This left her concerned over her daughter’s academic performance. Life in general became unbearable that she contemplated taking her own life.
“I remember how when I was discharged from hospital colleagues at the airport arrived to welcome me back home. It was exciting to see them. I was in denial and kept on telling myself I would walk again. Reality quickly set in and I realised this would not be possible.This is probably the time depression kicked in”, said Tshefu.
Tshefu recalls that while at home recuperating a relative took her to a local church.
“I found inner peace that day. Anger had totally consumed me. It was not easy but through prayer I forgave my perpetrator”, says an emotional Tshefu.
The Department of Education gave her incapacity leave from 1998 to 2000. It was decided by powers that be at the department that she had to be boarded to civil pension because her condition had not improved. Tshefu had lost all hope.
In 1999 Tshefu was introduced to Disabled People South Africa (DPSA). She says at DPSA her hope in life was revived. She is forever gratetul to one compassionate DPSA staffer Nokuthula Tsawu who became her pillar of strength.
“Nokuthula was younger than me but found in her to reach out. She gave me pearls of wisdom which I live by till today. We have become the best of friends. I will forever be thankful to her”, said a teary Tshefu.
In conclusion, Tshefu says being disabled has taught her to be resilient.
“We are only useful to our families when they expect to benefit from you. Once that does not happen you become a liability to them. What I have learnt from this journey of disability is that life is not easy. People develop an attitude towards you. You are called distasteful names. This in turn affects your children,” concluded Tshefu.
Having triumphed over adversities life has thrown at her, Nomasango Tshefu is living proof of how resilient the human spirit can be.