Sunday 20 June 2021
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‘Despite my skin disorder, I still have dreams’ – Puveri

Twenty two year old Puveri Tjikuua, was born with a skin condition called Ichthyosis. A skin disorder characterized by dry scally skin usually thin or thick. In Tjikuua’s case, her skin has fallen under the thick skin category of the condition, which means that her skin tends to thicken and then starts shedding off, which at times results into infected blisters all over her body.
These infected blisters tend to appear on the basis of how her skin is doing at a point in time, however in winter she is prone to picking up more infections because cold winter air is said to worsen the dry skin of person with Ichthyosis.
During good times Tjikuua’s blisters appear two to three times a month but at other times when her skin is not doing too well, the blisters are found to appear every day.
Despite the difficulties she has had to endure because of her condition throughout her life, Tjikuua in an interview with The Patriot, shared that she has learned to accept it and notes that she has come to realise that she is still a normal person who has desires, dreams and aspirations which she would like to pursue.
Her disability has not stopped her from achieving her goals of one day becoming all that she envisions for herself because she knowns that there is much more to her. The young lady who is currently enrolled at the College of the Arts as a media student, highlighted that she has dreams of one day owning her own media house.
Tjikuua is currently working towards specialising in creative writing because she has been told by various people in the media industry that she was indeed a good writer.
“This just goes to show that my skin condition has not limited me, I am still able to do normal things such as writing as well as photography which is one of my hobbies” she said.
She also has a dream of one day using her media house to help raise awareness on her skin condition and disabilities in general because she would like to see more young people who are affected by it speak up for themselves, through media.
“It would be great if we could see young people with disabilities speaking for themselves without having anyone else do it for them because funny enough most people associate disability with the inability to do normal things. People tend to always think that we are not mentally well which is far from the truth” she explained.
She explained that she also has dreams of one day opening up a foundation that caters for people with special needs as Namibia rarely ever has support groups that people who have disabilities can turn to.
“There is a need for mentorship from people who can assist us. I won’t be the last to ever have Ichthyosis because it can happen to anyone. Since I never had the support system of assistance, I am in a better position to be a voice for people.
I know I can, I can be that person, I can be a voice for many, and I need people to push this dream in order to reach full potential because I know I have a purpose in this life and that is the extra ordinary gift to help the next person” she said.
Tjikuua further explained that through the establishment of the foundation she wants to show the world that she too is able to live a normal life.
She would like to be involved in a lot of activities, which she notes it may be a challenge at times but she is determined to take it on.
“I will try to push through the difficult obstacles because at the end of the day I want to live a normal life as possible.
This is because I have realised that I have a life to live, I can no longer shell myself in” she highlighted.
Although there is no cure for Ichthyosis yet, Tjikuua noted that she does not allow this to weigh her down. She recently left for Nashville, Tennessee, USA for a conference where she aims to gather all the information that she ought to know about the condition as well as seek for medical assistance.
“I hope I will take a lot from it because I want my country to benefit largely from the information. I have done so much research on the condition, and I have come to learn more about it but there is still a need for me to learn about the type of medication I can get that will assist in bettering my skin” she noted.
Bringing information back to Namibia will also be her way of educating the masses about the condition so that people will be less likely to discriminate against the next person because of the way their skin may look.
“I faced a lot of discrimination and I also experienced bullying growing up, but I had a few friends who were open to learning about my skin condition who helped me a great deal with getting through school.
They actually treated me very normal and they played with me because they understood what it was all about and this is what I want to teach the rest of the country” Tjikuua stated.
She envisions a better Namibia in the years to come, a Namibia where people will not stare at her wondering if she is mentally okay, a better Namibia where she is able to get into a taxi and the driver will be open to taking her to her destination without driving away or refusing to take cab fare from her. A better Namibia that will better cater for people with needs.
She concluded her interview noting that in recent years she has come to learn that on days where she still feels low about her condition, that it was okay for her to cry about it but stressed the importance of anyone who may ever find themselves with Ichthyosis to never suppress their feelings like she did when she was younger.

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