The Story of Thembalethu

SAFMH News Room

By Pietermaritzburg Mental Health

Thembalethu was diagnosed with Intellectual Disability and he was placed at Ekukhanyeni special school until he was discharged in year 2011. Thembalethu was admitted into Inkanyezi workshop in January 2012. He was not able to read and write, however he was able to sign his name. When he attended the workshop he acquired work skills; life skills and social skills. He learnt about money; he learnt how to use a cell phone, which helped him to be able to read other words and numbers.

In July 2015 he was selected because of his potential at the workshop and was placed in supported employment at Envade Rubber Factory where he became a permanent employee. It was his first time to be in the workplace and receive a proper salary. He acquired work skills; and learnt about money management. In 2016 he got his driver’s licence and he decided to buy a small car (Citi Golf). He was able to maintain the car; he is so proud that the car is still in good condition.

All was well until August 2017 when he was retrenched as the factory closed down. Thembalethu was bitterly disappointed, but he accepted that life has changed and sadly he went back to the workshop, where he continued until July 2019 when he got an opportunity to be one of the trainees on the Health and Welfare Seta Learnership. Thembalethu was placed at Tru Build Plastic and his life changed again for better because he acquired work experiences and a good stipend, with which he was able to sustain himself and the family, as his father retired in year 2015. He also contributed to upgrade the household’s furniture. Thembalethu completed this learnership in June 2020.

The supervisor from Tru Build liked his work and performance, and he employed him permanently in July 2020. It was exciting moment for him. One day Thembalethu came with his car to work and his supervisor saw him driving the car and he was impressed. His supervisor decided to train him to drive the forklift, he managed to do it well. His supervisor promoted him to be the forklift driver! His employer has now started training him as a mixer operator! He is confident and his self-esteem has increased tremendously with all this happening in his life and he is proud to be independent.

His future plan is to put effort into learning more new skills that would be offered by the company to develop and grow. He is also saving money every month as his next project is to extend his house as he stays with his father in a small four-room house.

Thembalethu has had his challenges and disappointments but he has remained steadfast and has shown that people with intellectual disabilities can rise up and be a success in the open labour market, a respected worker in a company and a respected contributor to the family household! Pietermaritzburg Mental Health is so proud of your achievements Thembalethu! You deserve all the credit!

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