Despite undergoing a life-changing traumatic turn of events that left her at the mercy of family members and good Samaritans, Benita Johannes, a 17-year-old Grade 10 learner from Walvis Bay, wants to use her near-death experience to inspire others that are going through similar life struggles.
Benita was run over by a TransNamib train on June 2, 2013 on her way back to Kuisebmond after visiting relatives in town.
She was dragged several metres by the wheels of the train and found herself under the train when it eventually stopped.
It was reported at the time that she could not hear the oncoming train when she crossed the tracks, as she was listening to music on a new cellphone, when the train struck her.
Against all odds Benita recovered after spending several months in hospital, during which she her left arm and leg were amputated. She also lost her right foot.
After being discharged from hospital she had to adjust her lifestyle from being very independent to being entirely dependent on others to move around and do simple daily tasks.
With the aspiration to become a doctor one day Benita decided not to let the tragedy put her life on hold and immediately went back to school. She is now an inspiration to her teachers and fellow learners, although she relies on them for assistance, as her wheelchair limits her freedom of movement.
“I want to encourage people with disabilities, especially children, to take life as it is and not to dwell on the past. It was hard. I accepted what happened to me. Now I want to use my experience to positively encourage others,” Johannes said on Friday.
She says she wants to touch and motivate others the same way First Lady Monica Geingos is doing. “I want to speak to the people the same way our first lady does. She is my biggest role model,” Benita explained.
John Harris, a teacher at Duinesig Combined School, where Benita is schooling, says she has become a source of inspiration and hope for the school and its learners.
“We learn so much from what she went through. She has become my daughter. I’ve taken it upon myself to assist her during school with her mobility,” Harris said.
He added that they have seen a positive change in Benita and that they are doing everything possible to ensure that her needs, especially at school, are taken care of.
“Ensuring her wellbeing is a collective effort and we just want to see her happy and succeed in her dreams. What happened to her was very traumatic and it is only fair that we all assist where we can in order for her to complete her school career and reach for her dreams,” he said.