A winner for life

In 2004 the Gauteng Premier's Women Day Award took place in a marquee at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Before the award could be made, however, the marquee collapsed. Only one person was hurt: Soraya Scott. Since the tragedy two and a half years ago she has been coming to terms with her disability.

As Soraya sits recalling the day of the accident the characteristics that got her nominated for the award, which she did go on to win, shine through. It has been a tough two and a half years for everyone. She looks at her son's report card and remarks: "For the first time since the accident his report is what it use to be. This has been life changing, not just for me, but for my whole family."

Support


It was family support that has pulled her through the last two and a half years. However the first initial three months in hospital it was Soraya that held the family together. "My husband, sister, everyone fall apart and I was fine. This was a mistake. I was too fast to accept what had happened. It hit me six months later, but then my family was okay and they were there for me."

The accident also brought a whole new meaning to her marriage vows. "It is something that will make or break your relationship. I can say that there are not a lot of things we are scared of facing together. We are stronger, our bond is stronger, but the bond has to be there and must be strong to start off with to deal with something like this."

She continues, stressing her next point: "The mental and emotional aspect takes longer to deal with than the physical wounds. You go to the doctor, the physio, you get advice from magazines like this. But to deal with your feelings takes a lot longer. It took me time to deal with my own feelings about myself, and it is still something I combat on a daily basis."

One of her biggest mental obstacles was to accept her body and to learn to love it. "I have come to realise that I too love myself first before others can. I have never been an insecure person but after the accident I was. I worried about weight gain and just in general how I looked. Society places such a premium on women's appearances and on what the eye sees and if you are not the norm, you are judged."

Soraya pauses to get coffee, weighing her words in her mind: "Interacting with other wheelchair users has been most useful. I have to emphasise to people that they must do this as it is other wheelchair users that give you tips that make your everyday life easier. Doctors cannot help you there."

Fault


What they also cannot help you with, says Soraya, is dealing with fault. "What really got to me was that what happened was due to nothing that I did. I found this difficult to deal with as I have always been someone to take responsibility for my actions - good or bad. This time, however, I could not blame myself. It has taken time to put what happened in perspective and accept it.

"This also led to me believing that because this had happened to me, nothing else - bad - would ever happen to me again. I have gradually come to realise that other problems are going to come my way and I have to deal with them."

All through the last two and a half years Soraya has continued with her waste management business. "With a few practical adjustments made to accommodate me in the workplace I am running my business like I was before the accident."

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