SCARS FROM AN UGLY TONGA PAST – “HELPING PEOPLE HELP THEMSELVES”

Let’s get the ugly stuff out of the way first. The bilious stuff that burns in our chests and hurts our emotional health and communal wellbeing; the ugly reality that education got to the Tongas a bit later than to the rest of the country – a direct result of their unceremonious uprooting from their serene riverine lifestyle and the resultant mistrust of anything European. They are catching on admirably fast and even exceeding expectations.
Here is an example of a brave Tonga man who, although his dire case pleads for help in order for him to move on, literally; has marched on despite his disability. In the past, Tonga culture would have considered his condition a witch’s spell or a curse from the gods and he would have been expected to accept it without question and shy away from public life. Not so for Robson Chibhoto (pictured), who has defied his perceived disability to fend for his family and help others not only shed their cultural misconceptions, but also thrive in life.

Recently when KIARRA Chairman, Samu Mawawo, raised his ire with the poor state of hospital benches at Kariba District Hospital, this writer organized that they be repaired for free. One of the people who offered his expertise and labour was none other than Robson Chibhoto. Although Chibhoto is struggling to raise money to buy a new pair of surgical shoes, without which he cannot walk and fend for his family, he still offered to do unpaid work in a rented workshop. Bless his heart!

I later realised that although Robson Chibhoto is presenting a bold face and is ever ready to help his community, he needs urgent help himself. He has to go to Harare to Jairos Jiri or Parirenyatwa Hospital and have casts of his feet made first before he can order his surgical shoes. These special types of shoes can only be found in orthopedic centres and there are not many of these in Zimbabwe. Forty two-year old Chibhoto has a family of four. His first born child completed Form Four in 2014 and excelled, but because of limited funds, he had to send her kumusha/ekhaya, where she will probably enter into an early marriage for lack of opportunities to further her education. His second is in Form 3 and a similar fate awaits her if nothing is done to change their father’s circumstances. The younger ones are in Grade three, with the last born yet to enrol for schooling.
Chibhoto’s prayer is for his children to avoid his own fate of only being afforded a little education. He has set up a carpentry workshop in Andora Harbour. He prefers to work for his family. He hates begging. He is skilled. But sooner rather than later, Chibhoto will not be able to walk to his rented workshop. Besides the fact that the business is hampered with low patronage, his surgical shoes are so worn out that he won’t be able to walk to work to help himself and his family. With his kind of shoes, he cannot wait until the very last minute as he has to get a cast first before the special shoe can be made. This takes time.

Before culture consigns Chibhoto to kumusha/ekhaya, let us help this skilled, self-employed man to help himself and his family. He has helped our Kariba community; it is our time to help him in his hour of need. Mr Godfrey Bakasa, of G & K Shoes, who also operates in Andora Harbour, has tried to restore his surgical shoes, but he recommends a new pair or two. The shoes cost $300.00 a pair. He cannot afford this, but together we can get him a pair or two.
Those willing to donate should contact him on 0779 221 494 (EcoCash registered) or this writer on the details given below. Blessed be the hand that giveth. Kindly share in your social, sporting, church, and professional groups in order to get help for this man.

By Laiton Kandawire, a Patsaka Correspondent

About the author: Laiton is an Incentive Travel Organizer, Kariba Destination Planner, Certified ZimHost, Travel Correspondent and a thriving Blogger. He can be contacted on: +263 772 817733 or e-mail: ulakariba@gmail.com.