Happy Maseko

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This was our first day in Pretoria. We were meant to meet a young woman named Nas, who we met at the Botanical Gardens. The plan to film there was rendered impossible due to our lack of a permit.

We managed to convince Nas and her mother to take us to their home, and we were glad to have gone there because we would not have been able to get a real sense of what kind of a life she lives without seeing it.

Nas lives in a house in Laudium, Centurion, with her mother, daughter, and her brother along with his family.

During her interview she actually expressed the difficulty of being a large family in a small house. However, the love they have for each other is what binds them.

Nas is a young woman,  who is blind and is also an activist for persons with disabilities. On top of all this, she is a career woman, a mother and a life partner to the father of her daughter.

One of moments that touched me was when she spoke about what it’s like to be a blind mother. She expressed that there are limitations to what she can do with her daughter, however, she appreciates all the ways that they connect. When she mentioned the mess involved when baking blind with a toddler, I found it charming that she is able to speak so nonchalantly about her disability. Her acceptance of her life the way it is was truly admirable, but she is one of those women that knows what she deserves and is unhappy with the way persons with disabilities are often neglected and unaccounted for.

She also mentioned how classism also affects people with disabilities differently. I often think that highly privileged people often lack real social intelligence, because of their careless assumption that the people that struggle in life do not realize their are being looked down on.

Or maybe its the privilege of not having to care about how you are perceived no matter how you behave.

I see Nas as a natural born leader, because if given the power, I’m sure she would prioritize equity in society.

Now let’s talk more about Nas’s sight. In fact it was one of the first things she spoke to us about. As someone who has her sight, you expect that speaking about one’s blindness would cause a flood of negative emotion or would open some kind of fragile wound. Do you know what Nas said to us?

“Only the chosen ones.”

There is a special kind of beauty in Nas’ way. She seems to come of as shy in the beginning, however it isn’t the case at all because the things that she says are placed effortlessly but with intent. Being shy would mean that she is riddled with some kind of fear, but she didn’t have that fear. I think that her being is some kind of a metaphor for peace. In several mythologies, the blind are blessed with a super natural ability. It usually has something to do with being able to see more beyond what can be seen using eye sight. Like a powerful mind’s eye. This, combined with Nas’ physical beauty is what makes her seem enchanted.

I don’t remember how, but we ended up speaking about the father of her child. She expressed that he is not at all what she had imagined when she would fantasize about that man of her dreams. She originally had two things in mind; a Tswana man, and a man who isn’t blind. She did not get either.

She said something that every woman can relate to, as the gender that appreciates tenderness. She wanted to be with a man who isn’t blind because she, like every other woman, also wanted to be told that she is beautiful. Some people think feminism doesn’t allow for such superficial wishes, but it isn’t superficial at all. Yes, we want to be appreciated for much more than our physical appearance, however a part of romance is physical (with only a few exceptions). When you tell a woman she is beautiful, you contribute to the waves of joy in your environment.

Happy Maseko is a 25 years old woman from Mpumalanga (1759 ext. 12 leslie 2265) she lives with her 9 family members including her 5 years old son who is living with a mental and physical disability. There is only one person working out of the 9 in the family. She has been struggling to get a job to get her son medication due to COVID-19 it has also been hard during COVID -19 to use a taxi to go get her free medication in hospital because using public transport means that she will be putting her son’s life in danger. She has been dealing with mental health problems for some time now because of how many people and children are scared of her child because of his disability. COVID-19 has made things worse because the son cannot go and pay with other kids so that they can get used to him and his condition.

Focus:

The focus is how health care system in South Africa during lockdown was not functional and made things worse for people like Happy who is taking care of a 4 year old who is living with a mental and physical disability, having to buy him medication of about R2500 a month from her own pocket being as unemployed as she is with her mother depending on her son’s disability grant.

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