Cape Town - “Hey, look I’m reading a Bible,” said little Siphiwokuhle “Kuhle” Ngcukana as she demonstrated how she handles the Bible.
So surprised, I didn’t know how to respond or react as she lifted and twisted her tiny legs towards her face.
Her smile was a relief.
I saw a happy child and I smiled back at her.
Kuhle, as her friends call her, from Masiphumelele near Kommetjie, has a condition known as osteoporosis.
This condition makes it difficult for the 6-year-old to walk and play with other children.
Kuhle cannot use her wheelchair because the alleys in the wetlands informal settlement, where she shares a two-bedroom home with six other family members, are narrow and gravel-strewn.
The Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital donated the wheelchair and because Kuhle cannot use it, she crawls around.
She is small for her age and could be mistaken for a 1-year-old, but is talkative and playful.
Her condition has not stopped this brave child from doing things other children do.
The enthusiastic Kuhle knows her strengths and doesn’t feel ashamed of the way she is. Most of the time she is smiling and often refuses assistance from her cousin as she feels she can do anything besides walking.
A skipping game is her favourite. She even takes a turn to skip the rope.
I was also surprised as she used her hands to lift her tiny body and her legs up.
Kuhle’s friends know her favourite games and always accommodate her when its play time.
Her biggest challenge is moving around the environment she finds herself in.
Most of the time her mother, Busisiwe Ngcukana, 28, has to carry Kuhle on her back. Her sisters and neighbours at times help look after her when Busisiwe is busy.
Friends have to visit her because she cannot move around. As schools reopened, she is stuck at home. Her mother struggles to find a suitable crèche for her in the area.
Her wish is an electric wheelchair so that she does not struggle moving around.
During my visit to the family, Busisiwe indicated that her wish was to find a house suitable for Kuhle’s condition. However, “things have been slow”, she said.