STAR para-athlete Stellah Jongwe rolls her wheelchair forwards and backwards earlier than steadying up.
She out of the blue wears a large smile on her lovely face, able to pour her coronary heart out…
“I was born different with a disability called Phocomelia which briefly explains the half legs I have,” she begins after which pauses.
A quick silence follows.
She appears absorbed in deep ideas, head on her shoulder.
The smile has disappeared however not her magnificence.
She was referred to as names rising up with the situation in Mt Darwin.
Some of the phrases nonetheless rings on prime of her thoughts.
“Half-person, half-bread, Jojo . . . these had been my names…
“I was told even the doctors wanted to burn me because of my condition when I was still an infant but my mother, Elizabeth Manyawi, wouldn’t let that happen under her nose,” she stated.
Her father would not survive to see her develop as he died when Stellah was barely 5 weeks previous.
“That left my mother with a huge weight on her shoulders… “
Finding a spot for ECD wasn’t straightforward and when she ultimately enrolled at Bungwe Primary School, strolling to high school was a wrestle.
That prompted the varsity authorities to suggest her for enrolment at Jairos Jiri in Harare.
All was nicely when she began her Grade One on the well-liked Harare establishment in 2008 till a 12 months later when her mom developed some psychological well being issues which she suffers from as much as at the present time.
“My world crumbled beneath my toes. I had no motive to reside both. It was so onerous, I had nowhere to show to. My hopes, goals, all the pieces evaporated.
“It was my maternal grandfather who, a minimum of, confirmed me motive to reside, he supported me in all the pieces l did.
“School wasn’t a great place for me too with my fellows additionally calling me these denigrating names.
“l would cry non-stop. It was hell… “
That is how Stellah realised she needed to partake in sport the place she felt she would excel and a minimum of silence the discording bullies.
“I used to be in Grade Three once I determined to have interaction in sport and humanities not as a result of I had the fervour however simply to indicate that I used to be, in any case, good in these issues.
“I was everywhere, doing every activity at school, playing marimba, mbira, dance, public speaking, wheelchair basketball, tennis, everything… That is how I honed my different sporting skills.” Academically, Jongwe was doing good as nicely clinching six Ordinary Levels in 2018 and even obtained a spot at Harare Polytechnic College however she has not but began her programme as a result of lack of funds.
She wrote her first sporting success story in 2020 when she scooped gold on the Outeniqua Chair Challenge held in South Africa, the identical 12 months she gained her first CBZ Marathon ladies’s wheelchair race gold medal.
And three weeks in the past, she retained the CBZ Marathon gold medal proper on the heels of what she phrases her main success when scooping bronze within the African para-badminton championships held in Uganda late final 12 months.
“I’m a cheerful somebody now. I can see the path I’m going. I want to thank all Zimbabweans for the assist they’re giving me in my sporting endeavours.
“I used to be impressed by Elliot Mujaji (former paralympian).
“My dream now is to reach the 2024 Paralympics to be held in Peru. I am working towards that goal and I am praying hard to see that through.”
Jongwe’s final prayer is that her mom be healed and see her excel in her sporting endeavours. She additionally needs to go forward together with her schooling as she goals to defy her situation in additional methods than one.