Picture: Supplied

Cape Town - Twenty-two-year-old Tinyiko Gwambe, from Tshilamba, Limpopo was born without arms. 

However, she has never let any obstacle stand in her way and from a young age, was determined to not be held back by her disability.

She was born with Tetra-amelia syndrome, a rare condition that left her without limbs. The syndrome can also cause severe malformations of parts of the body, including the face, heart, nervous system, skeleton, and genitalia.

In a bid to raise enough funds for a specialised vehicle imported from the UK, Gwambe has appealed to the public to make donations to her crowdfunding Backabuddy campaign.

She aims to become more independent and empowered when she is placed in her first job as a social worker.

“I had to learn early on not play the blame game and accept myself for being born this way. I had to realise that with being disabled, my obstacles would oftentimes be greater than those of able-bodied individuals. So I pushed myself to do more, I found gratitude in exceeding people’s expectations of me and through scripture found the confidence to chase my dreams” said Gwambe.

Picture: Supplied


She is a fourth-year social work student at the University of Pretoria and has so far obtained 16 distinctions towards her degree. 

Bad experiences by negligent social workers spurred on her dream to become a social worker. She wanted to help others in her situation and provide the care and stability she wanted while growing up.

When her mom passed at the age of 15, Gwambe was removed from her aunt, Josephine Makhado who had dedicated her life to raising her. Thereafter, she was looked after by social workers who continuously let her down.

“The social workers kept changing and did not have the experience to take care of me. They did not understand my needs. For instance, they would get a caregiver who did not even know how to carry me. The painful truth is, sometimes I would go a day without eating. I felt that no one was looking out for me and I felt really alone” says Gwambe.

In 2015, Gwambe reunited with her aunt in Pretoria.

“Being a social worker often requires a lot of travelling and fieldwork. To do my job more effectively and even make it to lectures for the time being, I will need to rely on myself. Once this obstacle is overcome, I will be able to utilise my skill set and serve my community to the best of my ability. I really hope the public will support my BackaBuddy campaign” says Gwambe.

The crowdfunding campaign went live on 4 April 2018. It has raised R7 309.40 towards the target of R350 000.

To help Gwambe raise funds for her specialised vehicle, you can donate here.