Meet Noluvo Mahlalutye – go-getter and firm believer in doing things for oneself rather than relying on others. The fact that Noluvo has limited mobility as a result of contracting polio at the age of five years old has never deterred her. In fact, it has spurred her on to living a life of action and determination. As a student at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology (CPUT), she would struggle up the stairs each day. Instead of becoming discouraged, the difficulty motivated her to approach the university’s management and initiate the installation of a lift at the business school. Noluvo says, “When I left CPUT, the lift was not yet installed. But the most important thing to me was that I’d taken action.”

As it happens, Noluvo only learnt to drive in her late 30s. This might seem odd for someone as determined as she. However, a combination of challenges made her shelve the dream to drive for some years after graduation. Noluvo says, “I’m from a family of five children, all raised by our single mother. I am the first graduate in my family. After my studies, there was a financial backlog at home that I needed to take care of, first and foremost. My main goal was to ensure that my family could enjoy a better standard of living. For a number of years this took priority over getting a car.”

It was when Noluvo had a young daughter of her own that the need to drive shifted up on her list of priorities: “I felt that I needed to be more independent because at this point I always had to take someone with me wherever I went, so that they could help me with my child.” Despite more challenges ahead – including having to find a car for the driving school in which to teach her because most of them don’t have adapted cars! – Noluvo successfully obtained her licence and was able to purchase her first car in 2013. Nicky’s Drive provided funding for installing the hand controls necessary for Noluvo to drive: “On top of purchasing a car, I wouldn’t have been able to afford the additional expense of car adaptations. Having Nicky’s Drive fund this part of the process gave me such relief, financially.”

But it’s not just financial relief that Noluvo has been given. Driving has boosted her self-esteem and confidence. And, most importantly, it has enriched her relationship with her young child: “My five year old daughter and I can go off alone together, and this has actually strengthened our bond as I no longer need to ask someone to take us places. We just jump into the car and go wherever we want to go.” In fact, laughs Noluvo, her daughter likes to think of the car as belonging to her, as her name is on the number plate. She tells Noluvo, “My mommy car is awesome.”

Noluvo says now that she drives the difference in her daughter is palpable. There is immense happiness in the fact that her mother is able to do the same things as other parents, such as the daily school run and pick-ups at after-school activities. “You should see the excitement each day when I come to fetch her from school,” says Noluvo, “it’s priceless!”