I kept trying to tell my wife to leave me. I was sure she'd be better without me. I knew I was holding her and our children back and other people were telling her to leave me too. I remember just waiting; waiting to see whether she would go or not.
I'd been in hospital for one and a half years and after coming home, I became very depressed. I hated myself for the burden I'd become after the accident I'd been in and I wanted to die. I felt so guilty. I kept asking God to take me away and inside I was despairing. Every day I felt bad. I barely spoke, I had so little confidence and energy, I just stayed on my bed in the dark all day. Just recalling it now makes me upset.
The road accident happened in December 2002. I was travelling home one night in the back of a lorry from Dar Es Salaam. The driver was tired and suddenly lost control of the vehicle. We crashed into the verge and turned over. I woke up in hospital to hear six people I'd been travelling with had died, three at the scene and three that night at the hospital. The doctors thought I was going to die too and when I was conscious, they told me my spine was broken in two places and I'd never walk again. There was nothing they could do for me. I was lost for words, I couldn't think properly and I was so frightened I was going to die.
Shortly after this, I found out the accident had also made me infertile and I could no longer go to the toilet properly either. All the damage was permanent and I had to stay away from home in Dar-es- Salaam indefinitely for treatment. My wife was pregnant with our fourth child when this happened but stayed at the hospital with me as much as she could. She didn't respond when people told her to leave me, even I told her to take the children and leave when I was at my most depressed. She was patient and always there for me.
When I eventually made it back home to Iringa, I had no wheelchair, so she had to carry me in and out of the house. I crawled everywhere and felt so ashamed, I could not even hold and hug my children. I was like a fifth child for her to look after. She had to stay at home to look after the children and I all the time. Because of this, she couldn't go out to work and I obviously couldn't work either. My mother helped us out with the children so she had a little more free time to cook chapatis to sell, but sometimes days would pass without getting any food. It was an extremely difficult time. Some members of my church clubbed together for a wheelchair, which gave me some encouragement. But we survived like this, day by day for seven months until we decided to visit Neema Crafts.
When I met the director of Neema Crafts, I told her all of my problems and wondered if there was anything that could be done. I was sure I'd reached a dead end. But after being accepted and trained in the weaving workshop for six months, my outlook slowly began to improve.
I've been here for ten years now and I make scarves, cushion covers, clothes, hammocks, rugs and table-mats. I put the money I earn towards my children and finishing building our new house. Life is better now. I know Neema Crafts is taking care of my family and I feel I'm able to support my wife too, who for around three years had to face everything alone.
Compared with how things were before, we've seen many positive changes. But I still regularly think to myself, 'What would life be like if I wasn't disabled?' I had a good life before; growing and selling crops, a house, a working body and independence. I led a normal life. Then everything changed in a matter of hours and I was the lowest I had ever been.
I've been asking God to help me to finish building my own house and prepare for the future. Now with what I earn at Neema along with the other help they have given me, that dream has happened. I am full of joy every morning when I wake up with my family under our own roof!