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October 28, 2013 | Africa: South Africa

MY JOURNEY WITH SPECIAL OLYMPICS

By Keaoleboga Malumane

Every tale starts from the beginning, every beginning has an end. 

 My tale started yesterday when I had no ideas about Special Olympics. 

 Sshhhh didimala and listen. 

 Listen to the music of criticism. 

 Listen to the beat of prejudice, the loud voice of stereotypeness, the silent voice of division. 

 Listen to the melody of hatred, anger, rejection. 

 Didimala and listen. 

 Listen to the melody of our voices singing the song of condemnation. 

 Listen to the beat of our music promoting an anthem of variation. 

 I said listen. 

 Listen to the rhythm of our feet stamping upon one's humanity just because of their mentality. 

 My tale started yesterday when I had no ideas about Special Olympics. When I had ears but could not hear, when I had eyes but could not see, yes when I had a mouth but could not speak and yet I had no disability. 

 I heard people preaching humanity yet still find them devaluating others. I heard people preaching courage but discouraging people with intellectual disabilities. If this is the gospel they sing how many can listen? If this is the melody of their voices how united can we be if this is the salvation they proclaim? How many can be saved? So they call it: a gospel of exclusion. 

 For a moment it felt like a dream. A dream where one has a fear of waking in the mist of the crowd lost and confused . A saviour came to my help. I had no courage to express myself, had no destiny to achieve my dreams, no mission to enrich my visions. From a distance a saviour identified me. Far from above was seated my dignity, down cast my soul, depression of my humanity, bound and cast by the inequity of my creation, rejection of my ideas, temptation of my creation, variation of my speciation, lost in the world of wilderness where hatred was the muster of humanity. A saviour came to my help. It was a year ago when Charles Mironko saw the potential in me and made me a life; he taught me values, ethics, morals and responsibilities that gardens life. It was a year ago when Meisha Robinson taught me about making the difference, similarities, disabilities, the abilities. Since then, love, patience and passion became my daily expression. That's where I first heard about Special Olympics. It was a journey from leadership to Special Olympics; the journey with no ends but only remarkable beginnings. 

 It feels like yesterday when I had a fear towards people with disabilities; when I could not socialise, sleep, eat, interact or think about people with disabilities. To my world they did not exist, to my class they did not belong, to my status they did not fit, to my society it was a taboo to mention them, a sin to communicate with them and a curse to be one of them. Yes, nobody told me they were human like me. But today my life has changed only because of people who believed and had faith that we are all unique before God and creation. We are a family and we need each other. It took courage and hard work for them to persevere; it took dedication and patience for them to understand how to live with people who have disabilities. 

 But it can only take willingness from you and I to spread the word because we are equipped like soldiers. We have a helmet of knowledge, spear of defence, a shield of truth, a belt of understanding, the boots of unity, gloves of interpretation, and voices to grasp attention. Thanks to Special Olympics for giving us a chance to view life from God's point of view. Thanks to Charlie Merrow to continue where Meisha has started. You have taken us from knowledge to experience. Thanks to Kaeden for preparing us for the journey. Even though it was hard you never gave up on us; this journey would not have been easy if it wasn't because of your guidance. 

 Thanks to all the Special Olympics volunteers, you guys are giving us hope that one day our world will really be united when everyone will be included regardless of their weakness, acknowledged and highly considered unique. We are who we are today because of your small impact and I believe through us people will be aware about Special Olympics and understand that it is not about disabilities, but abilities. 

 If this is an infection let us all be sick and so help us God.

About Keaoleboga Malumane: Grade 12 – Thethe High School
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