Breaking ‘the curse’ of disabled children in South Africa

The government estimates as many as 600,000 children with disabilities are not getting an education.

Thirteen-year-old Lesley Mashimbye and his parents Maria and Thomas [Natasha Ghoneim/Al Jazeera]

Lesley Mashimbye’s father wanted to abandon him at the hospital. Family members were so embarrassed when he visited, they wanted him kept him inside a bedroom. The 13-year-old suffers from cerebral palsy and spina bifida.

“They make me feel sad,” he says about the intolerance he’s faced from extended family members, neighbours and people in the community. “I want people out there to see me as a dignified person and I want them to love me.”

In South Africa, children with disabilities are often viewed as a curse by their families.

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