In March 2016, Rejoice Kandukira’s life changed forever.
She showed little signs of life as she lay in a coma following a horrific car accident that crippled her and resulted in the amputation of parts of both her legs.
Rejoice was at the tender age of six when she was resting under a tree opposite her home with her older brother when a pick-up vehicle veered towards them and crashed into her.
“That was the day my little girl’s life changed forever,” recalled Rejoice’s mother, Dominica Kandukira, while pointing at the big tree behind Theo Katjimune Primary School where the tragic accident happened.
Sporting a sleeveless floral dress, the ten-year-old Rejoice and her mother chatted to New Era this week about her miraculous survival and how they are coping, both physically and emotionally, after the fateful day.
“We have been doing well but things are no more the same. Rejoice is now turning into a teenager and things are becoming quite difficult because she started to question why that had to happen to her and why she cannot live a normal life like her peers. She is now becoming moody and extremely emotional,” narrated a concerned Kandukira.
She added that her daughter is enduring a difficult period of grief as she comes to terms with how her life has irrevocably changed.
Asked to comment on what her mother said, the soft-spoken Rejoice nodded her head, saying, “I think of a lot of things. Sometimes I imagine why he had to bump me and the thought of it gets me stressed.”
Kandukira said although Rejoice is currently going through an emotional journey, she has an incredible doctor who is assisting her to get through the ordeal.
Despite the incident that left Rejoice wheelchair-bound and the family shattered, Kandukira stated that her daughter is a miracle and they are grateful that she does not have any other special conditions and that all her medical expenses are covered by the Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Fund.
“She is living a normal life and she is still doing well in school,” noted the unemployed mother of five.
Rejoice is currently in Grade 5 at St Barnabas Primary School. When asked about her goals, the little girl replied: “I want to become an artist. Both a drawer and a singer. I have a couple of pictures I have drawn. Sometimes I also think about becoming a doctor.” The young eloquent speaker took us into her room and showed us a few of her talented drawings.
“I draw whatever comes into my mind,” she said, pointing at some beautiful portraits on her computer.
Disability is not an inability
Despite physical limitations, Rejoice has grown to be an acrobatic individual as she hops, climbs, and does backflips.
“This is my happy place, I don’t know why but I like it here,” said the flexible Rejoice as she surprisingly climbed on top of their outdoor ablution facility.
Climbing down, she swiftly hopped onto her wheelchair and jumped on the ground to show off her budding gymnastic skills.
Rejoice and her mother said they have forgiven the driver and he has become close to the family.
“We had no choice but to forgive him. Rejoice and he have become buddies and they get along well,” Kandukira said candidly. Rejoice added that the 28-year-old driver, who stays in the same location, often visits her.
“He comes to our house and sometimes I go to theirs. I heard that he was drunk during the accident and I have also forgiven him,” said the bubbly girl.
The driver who was hesitant to comment on the issue said he has a good relationship with Rejoice, however, he could not say much, as the matter is quite sensitive.