What others see as a disability is in fact an enabler

In a recent article on Disability Connect, we ran the story about Karabo Nguyuza, whose guesthouse had been declared the best in Tembisa by Gauteng Women in Tourism (WiT).

We caught up with Karabo, who is writing a book about her experiences, to ask her more about herself, her motivation and her business.

When diagnosed with polio at the age of 10, Karabo says that within a blink of an eye her world changed from being just like every other child in the neighbourhood to being confined to a wheelchair. 

“As you can imagine this hit our family even harder, with the added financial strain of trying to find a school that would accommodate someone with my disabilities. Not to mention the drastic changes at home. By the Grace of God, I was admitted to a government boarding school which was built specifically to cater for the disabled like myself and others who were faced with worse challenges”

While school had its ups and downs, especially for a student with a physical disability, she graduated and went on to get married and have a son.

Karabo credits her achievements, especially considering that she is a single mother and is disabled, to her own work and to her faith and prayer.

Atang Residential Guesthouse

Atang Residential Guesthouse started as an initiative that would give the middle- and lower-class access to a luxurious lifestyle at an affordable price in their own back yard in Tembisa. It quickly became a hotspot which rivalled both the already established guesthouses in the area as well those in areas such as Sandton.

Atang Guesthouse offers guests a wine and dine experience with the finest traditional African cuisine, all prepared by renowned and up and coming South Africa chefs.

“We also include a complimentary massage and a nail treatment at our nail bar as part of our exclusive overnight package and cater for our walk-in clients looking to pamper themselves, because any day can be a special day,”

she says. Being recently awarded as the best guesthouse in Tembisa, Karabo says that the presence of the spa and nail bar definitely contributed to this award.

Challenges

Besides finding the necessary funding to get the business off the ground, as well as to furnish the property and market it as a business, one of the main challenges Karabo faced was getting the Ekurhuleni Municipality to approve the change from a residential area to into a business zone.

“Since this was also one of the first guesthouses to be founded within the area, it was a challenge to get this accepted as a viable business plan to begin with.”

Karabo, who describes herself as a self-made businesswoman who has not forgotten her roots, says there were many times that she felt like giving up.

“I think I speak for all entrepreneurs when I say that every business owner has hit rock bottom, not once but several times,” she says and cites trusting in the wrong people, especially people who make  empty promises such as a promise of funding and then leaves you emptyhanded, can be very frustrating.

“There are no short cuts in life, you will have to go through all the trials and challenges the Lord has prepared for you. Those same challenges will turn into the woman or man who he needs you to be.Be careful of the people you surround yourself with. If you want to be successful, then surround yourself with likeminded people and you will be sure to succeed,”

A unique business

Besides the spa and nail bar, Atang Guesthouse also has the perfect rooms and spaces designed to cater for birthday celebrations, anniversaries as well as special Honeymoon suits. “We were also blessed with purchasing a shuttle for our guests travelling to and from the airport or any other destination, with this service being at no cost to our guests. And as I mentioned before, we are have an amazing team of cooks who can prepare anything from your Italian, Spanish and African cuisines,” she says.

Questioning your disability

“To be honest I have had random people coming to ask me about my disability, in the mall or when I was having dinner with a friend. I feel more comfortable sharing these personal details with close friend, my doctors or my family. In essence I am assertive when setting my boundaries, I try my best to be kind with the words I use and I have even gone as far as to educating others about the various disabilities and how to respect us,” she says and adds that the public need to always ask before trying to assist by pushing the wheelchair or helping in any way.

“Most importantly what others see as a disability is in fact an enabler for us, one which pushes us to worker harder, go further and reach higher”.

Words to live by

Her advice to people with disabilities is to reach for the stars, all your goal and dreams are available to you. “Those who have made it before you did not do it over night or use magic (Umuthi). Their success comes from hard work and dedication,” she says

“Most importantly, being disabled or having a disabled child is not a curse or something to be ashamed of. Like any child, they will need tender love and care but just a little more than usual”. 

More about Karabo

How does Karabo relax and unwind?Well this is really a tough one. I am a workaholic and between running a business and being a single mother to her 12-year-old boy, there is not much time left for me,” she says. She does love writing and is working on her first book and when time allows, she also loves traveling and going on road trips with friends or treating her friends to some delicious cooking and a spa treatment. I am also part of the selfie nation. I really love taking pictures,” she says!

“But most of all, I am a god-fearing woman who counts her blessings every day for the work he has done in my life,”