Disabled, unemployed NPO founder a woman ‘who can make something out of nothing’ to help others

Nosintu Mcimeli’s organisation is establishing food gardens for villagers with disabilities and assisting the desperate

Nqamakwe-born Nosintu Mcimeli, through her non-profit Abanebhongo, helps people from her community who are in dire need of basic essentials, but are struggling due to disabilities.
Nqamakwe-born Nosintu Mcimeli, through her non-profit Abanebhongo, helps people from her community who are in dire need of basic essentials, but are struggling due to disabilities.
Image: SUPPLIED

Facing unemployment is extremely stressful and traumatic, and even more so for people with disabilities.

Living with both, Nosintu Mcimeli, 45, from Xilinxa Village in Ngqamakhwe, decided to register an NPO — Abanebhongo People with Disabilities —  which is aimed at assisting disabled people from her village and surrounding areas with their essential needs.

Mcimeli said: “We cater for the needs of people living with disabilities here in Ngqamakhwe.

“We have a database of 118 people from at least six villages.”

After doing a feasibility study in 2014 in the Western Cape, Mcimeli realised the need to return to Ngqamakhwe to assist her home community by establishing the NPO there. 

Her desire is to fight for the rights of people living with disabilities in dusty rural areas, and to assist the desperate in these trying times.

“I started a community soup kitchen to ease the lockdown devastation in my village.

“I sourced seed and seedling donations and grew vegetables for the soup.

“I had to create enviro-gardening; small gardens in households of people living with disabilities and bedridden people to build sustainability into their lives.”

She said people now had their own vegetable gardens, with their families helping with their proper care through Abanebhongo’s support.

“Beyond food sustainability, Abanebhongo has pushed tirelessly for water access, harassing various structures to bring tankers when taps run dry for months on end.

“To the overwhelming joy of the community, I organised the sponsored installation of a borehole in May 2021, placed in the school grounds where the entire community can access it instead of only in Abanebhongo’s gardens,” said Mcimeli.

The NPO also provided food for school meals when the Department of Education delayed funding, and assisted the elderly to receive their Solidarity Fund food vouchers.

Mcimeli’s nominator, Merran Roy said: “The organisation started providing children with activities during lockdown, including teaching them to grow food and create beautiful spaces for themselves.

“They have successfully kick-started and supported several small-scale, home-based chicken farming initiatives.

“When Nosintu anticipated the elderly would face hunger, and disabled and infirm people would have to pay out of their disability grants for expensive private cars to take them for their vaccinations, she used her own disability grant to travel to Ngqamakhwe hospital to advocate for free transport,” Roy said.  

“Last week, when the R350 Social Relief of Distress [SRD] grant was re-implemented, a group of young unemployed men approached Nosintu with a R100 contribution each, asking her to assist them with starting their own chicken project.

“Their exact words were, ‘We have seen that you are someone who makes something out of nothing’.”

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