OKAWAMBI – Pensioner Gabriel Sheetekela from Okawambi village in Oshikoto region says life has been very difficult since his wife passed on earlier this year.
Now 67, Sheetekela turned heads in 2017 when New Era shared video footage of him working in his mahangu field despite being physically challenged.
Sheetekela has had his lower limbs removed following a bomb blast during the country’s liberation struggle.
He has been living with disability for over 30 years now; however, he conceded life has been difficult, which hinders him from performing some basic household chores.
According to Sheetekela, life is no longer the same as it was before when his wife was still alive. “Look around; it is only me and my grandchildren. We have accepted the reality of living in a house without a mother. We are getting used to it, but it is very difficult, as her memories are still fresh in our minds. She was my better half, who was by my side in whatever work I did –be it working the mahangu field or house chores,” he said.
He is sometimes forced to fend for himself while the grandchildren are at school. “Those are the hard-hitting moments of life, where I wish she was around me: someone to laugh with and keep me company,” he said. Sheetekela also said he is in dire need of a new wheelchair to help him move around, as his current one is in a bad state. In fact, he prefers crawling than using the failing wheelchair.
“I would really appreciate if there are any good Samaritans to assist me with a new wheelchair for mobility. I have had this for a very long time, and it is now unable to perform. It is really a challenge. I am willing to collaborate with anyone willing to put something little so I can also add and sacrifice the little pension grant I get. I am suffering,” pleaded Sheetekela.
Sheetekela is a true definition of ‘disability is not inability’. When this reporter visited his homestead on Monday, Sheetekela was found fixing the fence with his four grandchildren. His homestead is situated some 12 kilometres outside Omuthiya.
In 2017 New Era discovered Sheetekela working in his mahangu field and it was fascinating to see him work at a fast pace, weeding with a hoe and his hands.
Further proving his ability, he was later found harvesting mahangu, a threefold his height, with ease. Although he was able to harvest mahangu, he was quick to point out that it was not sufficient to last until the next cultivation season and fears hunger might strike, as his pension grant is the family’s sole source of livelihood.