Aphelele Gumede, 9, with his parents Nkumbulo Gumede, left, and Thembi Gumede, before he gets his prosthetic arm this weekend. Picture: Sibonelo Ngcobo (ANA)
Durban - Today will be a special and exciting day for Aphelele Gumede when he gets a hand - literally.

The 9-year-old boy from uMlazi will receive a 3D prosthetic arm from manufacturer Mitchell Designs at his school, Umbogintwini Primary, in eManzimtoti. He had been born without a right hand, and this will be his first prosthetic.

Jamie Mitchell, founder of Mitchell Designs in Bloemfontein, will deliver the hand himself as part of his project “Helping Hands”.

It was through a chance meeting between a friend of Mitchell’s, who had been visiting the school and saw Aphelele, that lead to the boy’s exciting and life-changing moment today.

The 3D prosthetic arm bends at the elbow, where it simultaneously encloses its hand and fingers, allowing it to grip on to objects.

“I’m very thankful for all what is happening, I’m happy for my boy,” said excited father, Nkumbulo Gumede. He said now the boy would not be as embarrassed when he’s dressed and there is extra space on jackets and jerseys, or when the arm shows if he wears a short sleeve top.

“He would ask me when his hand would grow because all the other kids’ hands had grown,” said his mother, Thembi Gumede, who would have to explain that his hand would not grow.

She said that it would be frustrating to explain to people who would ask what she has done to the child. “I mean, what could I have possibly done to him? I would never hurt my own child. They would even ask him what happened to him. It lowered his self-esteem,” she said.

Thembi said she would show Aphelele examples of successful sports stars who had physical challenges as a way to encourage him to accept his challenge. “He later accepted his situation and grew to be a lively and talkative boy who loves to swim.”

The Independent on Saturday