Utho Ngathi: Who we are
Utho Ngathi is a Zulu expression meaning “You are something because of me and I am something because of you”. In our capacity as an NGO (non-governmental organisation), we are active on behalf of people with disabilities and their families in southern Africa. Our aim is to allow disabled people to lead independent, autonomous lives as part of society. We achieve this by means of therapy, accessories like wheelchairs and walking frames, access to education and work, training courses for the family as a whole and awareness training, among other things.
We met Thandeka when she was 28 and living in a small village in the Macubeni region. She was sitting on the floor of her mother’s house, with no wheelchair or other aids.
We first met Simamisa on his way to school in an old, poorly maintained wheelchair. He was attending a school for people with disabilities.
Viwe, 30 years old, has been severely visually impaired since childhood as a result of meningitis. Thanks to the support of a major German company based in South Africa, she was able to complete a year-long work placement.
You have to look twice to notice Lesego’s disability, but it forced him to abandon school in year 7. For him, access to social support and psychotherapeutic counselling was especially important.
Nkosikhona was just six years old when we met him. One of his family’s neighbours had informed us that the boy’s grandfather would always have to carry him out of the house.
Zachariah is now 46 years old. Having got to know him five years ago, we supplied him with a special new wheelchair and invited him to participate in our inclusivity project on the Soweto vegetable farm.