I am Olga Bikitsha, a divorced Mom of 2 beautiful kids, Viwe, 10 year old has Down Syndrome , and Wandie who is 9 years old.
When did you become a mom for the first time?
I can remember how excited my ex husband and I were in 2009 when we reached 12 weeks and there were no issues. I had never reached the 13 week stage through my three miscarriages. So we journeyed through Viwe’s pregnancy with excitement. When he was born at Westville hospital on the rainy 25th of September 2009, we were happy about our little boy. Two days later, my Paed, told me that our son had Down syndrome. I felt confused, disarrayed as I had no clue what that meant and what to expect for and from our son. As if that was not enough, we were told that he had one chamber of the heart instead of 4 and he had to go for open heart surgery at Sunninghill hospital. He was tiny and only 4 months old at the time. It was the worst thing we had to go through as some children did not make it. We woke up with heavy hearts not knowing what to expect from the hospital visit. Anyway, Viwe survived the operation though later in life we were told he might have suffered a mild stroke which affected his left leg.
It has been an interesting journey. At first, I was in denial and cried all the time and ask God, why me? But one day I woke up and said, actually, why not me God?
We struggled finding a nursey for Viwe in the Westville area, that’s when I heard of DSA KZN. I went there for the first time beaming with hope that at last I have found an organization with parents who have walked this road. Needless, to say that I was so disappointed as I did not get any help whatsoever, but they were priding themselves that their kids had grown and they could swim and drive. I decided on that day, to take care of my son the best way I could. We found a nursery school that could take him in Queensburgh. I was not happy with the condition of the school but was at least happy that I found a school that could take him. Our journey on that nursery school was short-lived and we found another one in New Germany called New Germany Lutheran . He stayed there for 3 years and they then told me to look for another school to cater for special needs as they had reached the ceiling in terms of his development. Stress of schools started again, but we were lucky enough for Viwe to be accepted at Khanyisa. This happened when my Ex husband and I were going through our divorce and had to move back home.
What is the hardest part about being a mom of a child born with Down Syndrome?
The hardest part of being a Mom of a child born with Down Syndrome especially in the African culture, is for your child to be called a “Mongol”, access to education facility and stares from people when you walk and talk to your child. It does not help that after my ex husband and I got divorced, I did not get support from him emotionally and financially so I had to look after our 2 angels by myself.
What do you do just for you?
To ease the stress, I like going out with my girlfriends.
If you had to pick the soundtrack for your life what would it be?
The soundtrack for my life would be by Frank Sinatra, I did it my way.
What is the kindest thing that someone has ever done for you?
The kindest thing done for me was to get support from Khanyisa and my Au pair Chantal. They offered support in the way I have never imagined. Suddenly, I felt that I was not alone and there were people I could count on.
What does Down Syndrome Awareness Month mean to you?
My wish is that Down Syndrome Awareness month, should be about creating awareness about the extra chromosome and what to expect, early intervention and accomplishments of parents because I must say it is not easy.
If you could change one thing in the world to make it an easier and better place for your child, what would it be?
If I were to change one thing in the world, it would be that children with Down Syndrome are treated like other children and have access to mainstream schools