This week, I wish to remind readers of this column that regardless of how difficult situations and circumstances get, nothing can stop an individual from achieving their goals.
Patricia Mabviko Musanhu
The intensity of the difficulties and the actual challenges people face will differ from individual to individual. However, the fact remains that no situation has power over an individual who has set their mind on realising their dream.
Dr. Rutendo Bonde was born with a physical disability known as congenital talipes equinovarus or club feet. It is a condition in which the feet are deformed and twisted so that the sole cannot be placed flat on the ground. As a result of this condition, she was unable to walk from childhood.
“Memories of my childhood have a lot to do with hospitals,” she said. “For the first decade of my life, I was going into hospitals for correctional services because my condition was very severe”.
Looking back, Dr Bonde remembers the pain she experienced going through eight different surgical operations on both legs. Not only was she unable to walk, but she also had to have specially made shoes which were designed to pull the legs from facing outwards to facing inwards and to pull the heel downwards in both feet.
Her typical childhood was marked by children laughing at her, especially at school, because of her condition. She remembers seeing her sister wearing all kinds of shoes and wondering why she was born with club feet.
As she grew up, life became even more complicated largely because of the prejudices people have towards those who are physically challenged. It became difficult for her to establish meaningful relationships even in her own person life because of the fears that people have about disability. Dr Bonde confessed that she has faced a lot of challenges and negative experiences in this sphere but she has equally seen the goodness of God through these challenges.
Each time she felt discouraged, disappointed and frustrated, she would be encouraged by the fact that her parents chose to give her the best health care they could get. Regardless of what people said to them about wasting resources, they continued to seek for a medical solution and continued to invest in Rutendo’s education.
“I remember my dad reminding me now and again that it was just my legs which were different. Everything else about me, including my brain functioned as normally as anybody else’s. Because of this encouragement from my parents, I focused on my education and was a top student throughout my schooling days.
I saw no reason why I couldn’t excel if my brain was just as good,” she added. In addition to excelling in her academics, Dr Bonde also displayed excellent leadership qualities and was elected deputy head girl when she was in high school. Because of the help and kindness she experienced from the doctors and nurses who attended to her when she was in hospital, Rutendo decided to take up medicine after her A ‘Levels and enrolled to study at the University of Zimbabwe.
After all the correctional procedures, Dr Bonde was eventually able to walk and to wear normal shoes. “I thank God that my parents chose to live a simple life and to put most of their financial investments towards my health care and my education. If it wasn’t for that, I would be nowhere today, perhaps sitting in a room, tucked away and hidden,” she said. However today, at age of 36, Dr Bonde holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery and a Diploma in Anesthetics and Critical Care Medicines from the University of Zimbabwe.
She is also a Fellow of the Geneva Foundation for Medical Education and Research with a Special Interest in Sexual and Reproductive Health. In addition she has training courses in various elements of community-based programming including strategic and issue based topics. She sits on six boards, one of which is co-chairing the HIV Technical Committee under the Country Coordinating Mechanism for the Global Fund.
“It’s been a wonderful experience representing my country and travelling to speak at international platforms.” I have a special place in my heart for people who are hidden. I want to make sure that they come out from their hidden places into the open. As an academic however, I believe that my purpose is to stimulate change which has a meaningful impact in the day-to-day lives of ordinary people,” she added.
Patricia Mabviko Musanhu is a Company Director/Producer at Black and White Media Productions. She can be contacted at email@example.com