Disability no limit for UFH first-year student

Born with cerebral palsy that caused flexion deformity on her wrists, Khanyisa Kufa is unable to use her hands but that did not stop her from realizing her dream of being the first person in her family to attend university.

Currently, in the first year of her Bachelor of Communication studies at the University of Fort Hare (UFH), the 19-year-old who uses her feet to write and to do practically everything her hands would have is well on her way to reaching her future career goal of becoming a journalist.

Khanyisa who is originally from Dutywa and spent most of her childhood in Cape Town, says the character of resilience formed in her when she was still a young toddler. “According to my mother, I was about 18 months old when I used my feet to lift my bottle feeder and steered it towards my mouth to drink. From that day onwards, I used my feet to carry out most of the tasks my hands would have done for me.”

Where others saw limitations, Khanyisa says her parents, especially her mother saw potential and encouraged her to live without limits.

“My mother always told me that I can do anything and everything that my friends can do, only differently. As such, I was sent to normal schools that were supportive and provided assistive devices to accommodate my needs such as a specialized laptop and a custom-made chair that supports my back when I am crouching to type or write.”

In addition, she draws and paints, all this using her feet.

Khanyisa enrolled at Fort Hare this year for the Bachelor of Communication studies after matriculating from Colosa Senior Secondary School with a distinction in isiXhosa last year. “When I obtained that distinction in isiXhosa, it was a sign that my dream of becoming an isiXhosa Radio News Journalist was affirmed,” she says.

Khanyisa says with the support and assistance from the UFH Disability Unit (DU), she found a home away from home at Fort Hare. “The staff at the Disability Unit ensured that I transitioned into campus life with ease. They went above and beyond to ensure that my time here as a student was without barriers. For instance, I was assigned to a student residence room that suited my needs and that was accommodative to my elder sister who is my carer. At class I use a specialized laptop and the custom-made chair, and that has made things much easier for me.”

The 19-year-old says she looks forward to crossing the graduation stage to collect her degree that would enable her to become a practicing journalist and play a critical role in being the voice of the voiceless by amplifying the stories and perspectives of marginalised groups.



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