Twenty-five-year-old Manderu Kabinda looks like any other ordinary young man that has dreams and hopes for a better future. The only difference is that he went through a life-altering experience, the effects of which he would carry with him for the rest of his life. His right arm was amputated following a freak accident at work.
On March 13, 2015, Kabinda, a general worker, went to work as usual at the China Harbour Engineering Company, which is currently busy with the N$3 billion port expansion project at Namport, Walvis Bay.
Shortly before lunchtime a giant concrete mixer experienced some mechanical problems. He and some employees tried to fix the machine on orders of their supervisor, although they are not qualified as mechanics.
Kabinda’s right hand got stuck in the conveyer belt of the machine and his right arm was crushed, in full view of his colleagues.
Kabinda spent three weeks in the Welwitschia hospital, but doctors could not save his arm. Ironically, Kabinda had only been employed for a month at the company.
The accident left Kabinda at the mercy of others as he could not do simple tasks such as washing or dressing himself – much less work to feed his parents and two children.
“Losing a limb is not easy. Especially when you are a man that had the responsibility to feed your family and children. Some say it is a constant emotional battle that depresses you so much that you hardly want to get out of bed. I can relate to it,” he explained when New Era visited him at home on Tuesday afternoon.
He told New Era he is currently living with his uncle, John Kangombe, who has become his rock and inspiration while he struggles to come to terms with his loss. The duo share a room in Kuisebmond.
“I still get nightmares about my horrible accident. Sometimes sleep evades me. My mind also plays tricks on me as I somehow feel my arm or the pain in it. I get depressing thoughts that keep me awake. All I can say is that the accident changed my life completely, but I am alive and trying to cope with life as it is,” Kabinda said while he hides his emotions behind dark glasses.
Kangombe, who happens to be a counsellor, says that Kabinda is indeed a different person compared to how he was before the accident.
“The accident affected Kabinda to such an extent that he had to see a psychologist for 18 months. You can see he is not that focused as he was before the accident. He is sometimes forgetful or starts a conversation on a totally different subject, forgetting what you’ve been discussing with him all along. But he is getting there,” his uncle explained.
He added that there are nights when Kabinda can’t sleep and “then we have to keep ourselves busy with the PlayStation, as I cannot leave him alone with his thoughts. We still have a long way to go but we will get there. Right now we are tackling every day as it comes. He is dealing with it the best way he can, although I know he will never fully be okay with his loss,” Kangombe said.
A note by the doctors that treated him says it is understandable that the accident has caused massive distress in Kabinda’s life and that he will need long-term bio-physical and social treatment and therapy to help him cope.
“I am just worried about the future. I have no education and my hand was my only source of income, but now with one hand how am I going to feed my parents and two children? I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I am grateful that I am still alive,” he told New Era.
Anguished… Manderu Kabinda who lost his right arm in a freak accident last year at Namport.