NEW lease of life for simphiwe

SIMPHIWE Mkhonza, a teenager who was born with a severely deformed face and lived with his grandmother in a dilapidated farmhouse, has received a Christmas gift he will never forget.

Mkhonza received a fully furnished five-roomed house from a Good Samaritan.

Mkhonza, 19, of the Vukuzakhe Trust near Volksrust in Mpumalanga, was even afraid to go to school because other children laughed at his deformed face.

Mkhonza attended one school after another andit was in 2002 that he went to Phembindlela Primary School to do Grade 4 that his life changed for the better.

Mkhonza's principal at Phembindlela, Nomadlozi Jele, said the first time she saw the boy was when he came to the school with his grandmother to register.

"I had just walked out of my office when I realised that this boy was different from the others.

"I walked past them but something told me I needed to talk to the grandmother, just to establish what was wrong with him," Jele said.

After Jele found out that Mkhonza was born with the deformity, she tried to make his plight known with the hope that someone out there would help him by getting his medical condition attended to.

The news soon reached Ligwalagwala FM, a radio station based in Mbombela (formerly Nelspruit) and a presenter told listeners about Mkhonza's plight.

The news touched Mbombela businessman Sipho Mokoena, who has always helped children with deformed faces or other medical conditions over the years.

"I called the radio station to find out more about Simphiwe and decided to help him even before I met him," Mokoena said.

Mokoena travelled to Mkhonza's home and found out that there was a serious need to help the boy and the whole family because of their severe poverty".

Mokoena arranged for medical specialists in Cape Town and flew Mkhonzafor operations that cost tens of thousands of rands apart from flight tickets.

After several operations Mkhonza's face became better and allowed him to smile, but Mokoena decided to build a house for him.

"I arranged with several businesspeople and we came out with something," Mokoena said.

"Some companies, like Corobrick, donated bricks and paving material, while Rudamans donated furniture and CTM Nelspruit donated tiles," he said.

Mkhonza said he did not want to be the way he was but that he was very impressed to see that there were caring people out there.