Genius Chamauya collecting empty bottles and scrap metal, which he sells for cash. Photo: Elmon Tshikhudo.
In 2004, Genius Chamauya left his native Zimbabwe in search of greener pastures in South Africa, but faced with the brutal reality of unemployment in the country, he too had to resort to piece jobs to keep himself alive.
Despite hard times, the 36-year-old from Masvingo, Zimbabwe, who now lives in Manamani outside Thohoyandou, was able to put a plate of food on the table every day with the money he earned from his odd jobs. To him, life was still better than it had been back home.
But as fate would have it, Chamauya was dealt a terrible blow when he was attacked by a crocodile while crossing the Dzindi River from Itsani to his home at Manamani. He lost his right leg in the attack, which left him cripple and dependant on crutches to be able to move about. Of course, Chamauya could not do physical labour anymore as he used to, to earn a living for himself, and as a foreigner, he did not qualify for a social grant either, so that was the start of a hard life for him, living on handouts.
Faced with poverty and starvation, the crippled man sat and lamented his situation but could find no solution. One day he saw people collecting all kinds of scrap and, curious, he enquired about it.
“I was told that people were selling this to a local scrap collector. I took up the challenge and, on my crutches, went out collecting empty bottles and pieces of scrap metal. The first day I managed to make R70. That was the turning point in my life, and I have been doing this for years now. On any given day, I am able to make around R60, which goes a long way in taking care of my needs. With the money I make, I buy food and other necessities and, even though it is not that much, I know I will not starve,” Chamauya said.
“God gave us limbs to help us function in life. But God also gave us brains, so that a person like myself, with only one leg, can think of ways to fend for themselves. To everyone out there I say, do not wait for handouts, because that will delay you. Stand up and do something to better your own life.”
Date:18 December 2022
Elmon Tshikhudo started off as a photographer. He developed an interest in writing and started submitting articles to local as well as national publications. He became part of the Limpopo Mirror family in 2005 and was a permanent part of the news team until 2019.