“Driving was something that I couldn’t believe I would ever be able to do. It has changed my life.” These words were said by Siphamandla Mtsolo just over three years ago, when he was recounting his journey from that of a quadriplegic, frustrated by his reliance on others in order to get from A to B, to an active undergraduate hard at work completing his final practical assignments for a degree in social work. His joy at his newfound independence knew no bounds.
Fast forward to today. Siphamandla, now equipped with a Master’s degree, practices as a social worker in the Department of Social Development in the Eastern Cape. He says, “My Master’s degree included two years of research that required a lot of fieldwork and interviews, which I could never have done without being able to drive myself around. I can say without any doubt that Nicky’s Drive indirectly had a positive impact on my academic endeavours.”
Not only did having an adapted car enable Siphamandla to complete his academic journey, but it gave a new spin on his personal life. Since beginning his career as a social worker in February 2018, Siphamandla had been able to travel independently to and from work, easily meet up with friends and drive himself to visit his family. Ordinary days, once constrained by having to make considerable travel plans, were now filled with endless possibilities.
But life is never without its setbacks. Towards the end of 2018, Siphamandla’s car stopped working; a huge disappointment, but one that he refused to let get the better of him. With careful planning he was able to purchase a new 2018 Toyota Corolla Quest 1.6. The downside was that without adaptations he would not able to drive it.
Siphamandla says, “It is practically impossible for me to use public transport which was why I needed my own car in the first place. Although I now had the new car it was still challenging for me because I had to find – and pay – someone to drive me between home and work. This became extremely costly and sometimes I would absent myself from work when there was no one available to drive me.” Frustratingly, this additional cost made it impossible for Siphamandla to afford his much-needed car adaptations.
Finally in early 2019, he reached out once again to Nicky’s Drive requesting assistance with funding the new car’s adaptations and the organisation was able to oblige. Nicky Abdinor, founder of Nicky’s Drive says, “It has been inspiring to witness Siphamandla’s progress and to see that being able to drive with an adapted car has made such a difference to his life.”
Siphamandla’s outlook has always been to remain positive and look for the opportunities when life throws you a problem, because no matter what, there will always be a solution. This has proven true and once more the possibility and freedom that Siphamandla so appreciates are firmly back in his grasp.