Growing up as a child with a disability can be very challenging and difficult. But 23-year-old Belinda Ramakatsa from Pampierstad in the Northern Cape doesn’t let her disability stop her from living her best life.
Belinda has scoliosis – a bent spine – something that most-often starts just before the growth spurt before puberty hits.
For Belinda, it happened when she was about 10 years old. Before then, she thought she was just like any other child.
“Some children at school would say I have something on my back, laugh about it,” she tells Move!.
But instead of letting that break her, she remained confident in who she was.
“I was a smart kid and confident in school, so a lot of my peers were drawn to me. I was always top of my class and so determined to change my story,” she says.
She uses Twitter to be a beacon of hope to others who are struggling with disability or life’s challenges weighing them down. The feedback is mostly positive, but she has also encountered trolls who’ve gone as far as calling her “the girl without a neck”. But all of that is energy she doesn’t vibrate to. Belinda tells Move! she stands on the shoulders of an incredible woman who has made her the woman she is today. “I would say I was the golden child.
My grandmother would validate me and remind me how beautiful I was. She would tell me often that there was nothing I couldn’t do,” she says.
Belinda is studying office management at the Northern Cape Urban TVET College. She is determined to not only make her life great but to also make a difference in the lives of others.
“From when I was a little girl, I had compassion for other people who were struggling even if it meant I was going to struggle. I remember taking off my shoes because a child who came from a poorer family than mine didn’t have shoes. I didn’t mind,” she says.
Apart from pain she encounters some days, she’s just like any other person. “I can’t be anything or anyone else. I learnt a long time ago to live with it and love myself for who I am,” she adds.