BORN and bred in Nelson Mandela Bay’s Walmer township, Thenjiwe Jakavula-Nonimba is a blind activist for people with disabilities in the area, motivating and creating job opportunities through various organisations she has involved herself in.
Having gone blind due to cataracts during her final year of study – which led to her dropping out – Jakavula-Nonimba found herself living below the breadline.
Through counselling and empowerment programmes, she was able to embrace her disability and make the best of it while doing something she was passionate about – empowering others with disabilities.
Her story is that of only one of the contributors to the Words of Walmer book project aimed at capturing the essence of the impoverished township.
The brainchild of Walmer High School matric pupil Samantha Nguruve and US student teacher Ashley Millhouse, the book will document residents’ stories of love, poverty, faith and ambition.
“Walmer is always known for all the wrong things – crime, poverty and protests – and we want to bring to light the beauty of the area,” Nguruve said.
Onela Jakavula and Abongile Rayi, also from Walmer High, have been tasked with collecting stories from people who want to tell them, but can neither read nor write.
“We go and record their stories and write them up or translate as people can submit in English and Xhosa,” Jakavula said.
Touched and highly motivated by the stories they have come across so far, the pupils say they cannot wait for the book to be complete so people can enjoy these “great” stories from Walmer.
The book is due to be finalised at the end of July, with the finished product meant to reach the public in late September.
Millhouse, who is part of the Fulbright Programme, said she had fallen in love with Walmer township in the five months she had been working at the school.
“I just love being in the township because I feel that is where the life is. Everything is so authentic here.
“We feel the book would be the perfect platform to rid the area of the negativity attached to it.”