HomeStandard StyleDisability is not inability for Jonathan Ngehama

Disability is not inability for Jonathan Ngehama

Gardening is a huge entity that involves the practice of growing and cultivating plants. There is ongoing education in this field and new discoveries of different species of natural plants as well as exotic ones happening all the time. However, no one claims to know it all.

gardening with Doreen Badze

There are some gardening experts who give book advice and others who are self-taught and have mastered only certain areas of gardening. Jonathan Ngehama (35), who is living with disability resides and work at Danhiko School in Msasa. The school offers formal education and vocational training, mostly to people living with disabilities. Last week, I visited the school to check on how best we can assist them in their garden and I Ngehama was assigned to guide me during the tour. As we shared gardening experiences, his enthusiasm and stories made me curious to know more of his work. Ngehama (JN) shared his touching story with me (DB) and below are excerpts of the interview.

DB: Sir, what is your name and tell us about yourself?

JN: My name is Jonathan Ngehama. I was born in Bocha, Marange and I was only able to walk at the age of nine. My left leg was affected by polio. Before the use of clutches, my mother carried me on his back whereever I wanted to go. After primary school, I would travell to a secondary school, which was 15km away on clutches.

DB: How did you get to Danhiko School?

jn: Word went around that I was travelling a long distance to school with my condition and the National Council of Disabled Persons of Zimbabwe responded by placing me at Danhiko”

DB: How did you become a gardener?

JN: I did agriculture at secondary school and I would like to thank my teachers who were so supportive. When I completed O’Level, my teachers asked me what I wanted to do and at that point, they already had offered me different courses like carpentry that did not include what I wanted, which was agriculture. However, Danhiko honoured my wish by sending me to the National Rehabilitation Centre for the Disabled in Ruwa to study ornamental horticulture. My best days were during attachments and field days as well as when we visited different farms for learning purposes. I successfully completed the programme and was hired back at Danhiko as an agricultural assistant and grounds man. I was offered a job as a receptionist and worked for six years while I was assisting in areas like gardening. Five years ago, I was promoted to become the boarding master. The house that I was allocated has a big backyard and that is when I began concentrating on serious gardening during my spare time, putting to use all that I learnt in my horticulture programme.

Ngehama later showed me his backyard garden and it was something I have never seen before. The ordinary covo that almost everyone has in their backyard was of good quality and size that it left me speechless. He shared a lot about how he mastered the art of making and growing with compost, using mostly organic manure.

This week in our nursery, we have cabbage star 3316, covo hybrid, lettuce commander, rape, tomato tengeru, gooseberry plants, green pepper, king onion, spinach and beetroot. Please note that, most of our seedlings are on a special reduction price of $5 for 200 plants.

Happy gardening week!

Doreen Mutobaya Badze is a retired nurse and passion-driven gardener. She can be reached on Cell: 0779 730 880 and on 16 Metcalf Road, Greendale, Harare. Email: Facebook Page: Badze Garden Nursery.

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