On our first visit to the state-of-the-art Jenn-Marematlou facility near Woodlands, we met six of the lucky seven learners referred to earlier. We were advised that the seventh beneficiary was not well. On a subsequent visit to Jenn-Marematlou we finally met the last beneficiary, Mr. Puseletso Ntuka, and he explained to us that he had to attend to his health on the day of our visit.

Puseletso is the fifth child of six children of the late Mr. Ntuka who worked as a construction worker (and passed away in 2015) and Mrs. Ntuka who worked as a domestic worker.

Puseletso told us that one morning in September 2013 whilst he was preparing to go to school for his matric examination, he suddenly fell and could not feel his legs. He says at first, he was not alarmed, but suspected that perhaps he had not rested enough the previous night.

His parents came to his rescue and put him back to bed. He missed school, examinations and spend that week on his back at home, could not feel his lower body and could not help himself. At that time, his parents were unemployed and none of his siblings were working either. The family depended on his father’s old age pension. His father hired a car that took Puseletso to Botshabelo Hospital. He spent another week at Botshabelo Hospital until he was transferred to Universitas Hospital. It was at Universitas Hospital where he was put through an MRI scan which revealed that he was suffering from some form of spinal cord tuberculosis and that he needed surgery. Puseletso was then transferred to Pelonomi Hospital for surgery, but had lost too much body weight that Doctors feared that he would not survive the surgery. He says he was then placed on a special diet to gain weight. To date Puseletso has gone through numerous hours of surgery on his body.

Through the whole ordeal, Puseletso never lost hope, and he says what kept him going was his will to achieve his dreams and walking on his own without help. His story is a testimony of the human spirit that can overcome anything if it is properly conditioned. He has never shared his story because often people would sympathise with him, but he refuses to be a “charity case”. He was quick to point out the support he received from his family, community and Mme Lerato Phiri, his Life Science teacher at that stage, who coincidentally also works for Jenn-Marematlou Training Institute.

Puseletso attitude and approach to life has already proven many people wrong including some medical practitioners who had told him that he was unlikely to ever walk again. Today he can feel his legs and doesn’t need his wheelchair anymore and walk with the help of his crutches. He says soon after he had discarded his wheelchair, he started walking around the house and also walking to his friend, Mohapi Maswetsa’s vegetable stall near his home.

Today he travels by bus from Botshabelo to Bloemfontein unassisted. He lives true to Martin Luther King’s words: “If you can’t fly, then run, if you can’t run, then walk, if you can’t walk, then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” Puseletso’s journey to recover is nothing but an inspiration for all that despite the situation you may face, if you believe and take control of your life, eventually you will achieve your goals.

At Interstate Bus Lines we are grateful that through the use of our service Mr. Ntuka has regained his independence and that our service helps him on his road to recovery. Interstate Bus Lines would like to thank Mr. Ntuka and Jenn Marematlou Training Institute for allowing us to be part of Puseletso’s story.