Ontlamentse’s dream comes true

Pretoria � Soon-to-be 18-year-old Ontlametse Phalatse has ticked off one of her goals on her wish list: meeting the President of the country.

The bubbly 17-year-old, who has captured the hearts of not only South Africans and well-wishers the world over, will be celebrating a major milestone in the life of a teenager on Saturday, 25 March. Turning 18 is a big deal for any youngster, but it is even more significant for the feisty Ontlametse. Doctors had given her up to the age of 14 years to live.

Ontlametse is one of two young South African girls who were diagnosed with progeria. Progeria is an extremely rare genetic disorder in which symptoms resembling aspects of aging are manifested at a very early age. Those born with progeria typically live to their mid-teens to early 20s.

In her meeting with President Jacob Zuma on Thursday at the Mahlamba Ndlopfu presidential residence, Ontlametse thanked those who have supported her through the years.

It really means a lot to have this kind of support, she said.

Of course, a birthday celebration would not be complete without cake and cameras flashing away to capture the special moments. The President sealed the day by presenting Ontlametse with a special bouquet of flowers.

During their chat, President Zuma came to learn of the challenges Ontlametse faces.

We discussed many things and I am very honoured to have met her, said the President.

He said government will try to assist her with a home and a car that will enable her to move about.

We will talk to the Department of Human Settlements to do something, the President said.

He said arrangements will also be made to give her medical assistance.

Even though there is a trust for Ontlametse, its coffers are running low. There is only R31 000 left. Advocate Bonginkosi Ngubane, one of the founders of the trust, said they are doing their best to meet Ontlametse’s needs. He, however, appealed to those who would like to lend a hand to do so.

Source: South African Government News Agency