Despite having every reason to be down and out, nine-year-old Ubuko Mpotulo faced many adversities with a smile on his face and will now become a Selborne pupil next term.
The Grade 3 pupil lost both his legs and several fingers when he was two years old, but received a set of high-tech prosthetic legs two years ago and will soon join his new classmates at Selborne Primary.
Mpotulo, who is an avid soccer player and swimmer, is excited about the possibilities his new school will offer.
“I am very excited to start at my new school because the boys in my class are very friendly and have already become like friends.
“It was a great feeling receiving such a warm welcome but I am sad to be leaving my old school and friends here behind,” he said.
His legs were amputated after he contracted meningococcal septicaemia, which destroyed his blood vessels and led to gangrene.
Mpotulo, currently a pupil at College Street Primary School in East London, received a hero’s welcome at his new school when he visited on Monday for an orientation day.
Selborne Primary principal Doug Voke said a former parent approached him about Mpotulo joining the all boys school.
“I have always had a policy to assist children who have a problem or inability to do something. My boys here are privileged in many ways and I find it important to encourage their caring nature.
“Having Ubuko here will create many opportunities for him academically, and on the sports field he will be a star one day because he has the right temperament,” Voke said.
He added that creating a supportive environment would lead to great success for the little boy.
Ubuko’s grandmother Nokuthula Mpotulo, 50, of Mdantsane said she was elated that her grandson was afforded this “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity”.
“We are very happy for Ubuko to be attending such a prestigious school, which could open many doors for him in future.
“It is in every parent’s heart to want their child to attend a good school and we are ever thankful to his Grade 1 teacher, who started everything and made sure he was on this path to receiving way more than we could have afforded,” she said.
“Even though he will be starting a great new adventure, we are also so appreciative that College Street gave him a good footing since he started there three years ago.”
College Street principal Craig Graham described Ubuko’s story as that of a fairytale.
“Ubuko embraces life to the fullest and he is always happy. It is an unbelievable opportunity,” he said.
“We need to be realistic. While our school met his physical inabilities, a school like Selborne can offer him so much more and he will thrive at such an institution.”
Voke added that an arrangement was made with the Selborne College headmaster to offer Ubuko a spot until he completes matric.
In 2015, he was fitted with prosthetic legs donated by a German company based in Johannesburg, Ottobock, which manufactures wheelchairs, prosthetics and other medical products. — firstname.lastname@example.org