Sibulele Liwani is a 13 year old boy who has a smile to warm the coldest day. When he was just two months old, he contracted Bacterial Meningitis, which had a significant effect on his physical development. He lived in Bloemfontein with his mother until she passed away in 2002 and then moved to his grandmother’s home in the Eastern Cape. At the age of 7, Sibulele’s teachers advised his grandmother that Sibulele was unable to concentrate in class and often seemed tired and disinterested. He suffered from excruciating headaches and his sister, Vuyiswa, noticed that the size of his head was not in proportion with the rest of his body. Vuyiswa became Sibulele’s legal guardian and brought him to Cape Town where he was treated at the Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital.
Sibulele needed vital surgery to straighten his spinal cord which was performed in June 2009. Sibulele recovered and went back home with his sister who was confident he would get better over time. This was not to be, and when he became weak and struggled to hold his head up he returned to the Hospital. In August 2009, Sibulele underwent a complicated spinal fusion surgery and vacuum dressing in the new Operating Theatre Complex and spent two weeks in the D1 Specialist Surgical Ward where patients are cared for before, and after surgery. Sibulele has had to repeat Grade 5 but his physiotherapist at Eros School feels that he has adapted well to his changed routine since his hospitalisation. Sibulele is happy to be back at school with his friends.