Cape Town – Kalib Missoe is an inspiration to anyone growing up on the Cape Flats that you should never give up, regardless of the circumstances you find yourself in. Because miracles do happen.
An injury on a rugby field in April 2015 led to him being in a coma for seven days. The doctors at the Netcare Kuils River Hospital were ready to switch off the life support system after declaring him brain dead.
Then, against all odds, he woke up in the cold room of the hospital while the pastor was busy with final prayers and returned to school in November that year. Both Kalib and his mother, Esmeralda, who has raised him by herself, attribute his recovery to their religion and faith in God.
"Kalib was a completely different person after the incident. Before the incident he used to rush around, but he has become very calm and focused," said Belhar resident Esmeralda, who also has an 18-month-old boy.
A sales manager in the banking industry, Esmeralda faced a lot of financial challenges due to Kalib’s hospitalisation and journey to recovery, but both of them have a never-say-die attitude.
Having subsequently made the most of his second chance in life, the 20-year-old Kalib intends to write a book on his life, titled Grace on the Seventh Day.
Fast-forward to October 2019 and the Bellville Technical High School pupil is finishing matric and has been given the opportunity – if he manages to raise enough funds – to study sports management at one of the top three Chinese sports universities next year after having being selected by Fielde International.
There are many strings to his bow. He gives motivational talks at schools and churches; is a performing singer/songwriter; qualified in July as a Western Province Rugby schools referee; is heavily involved in a dominoes club in Belhar; heads a fundraising initiative for the Belhar Night Market non-profit organisation; and is a service representative for the Chris Burger Petro Jackson Players’ Fund, which assisted him during his recovery process.
That’s not all. At the end of July, Kalib, who is also a community and youth activist, helped organise a march, among others, which involved four schools, to the Belhar police station after the gang-related deaths of three pupils.
They handed over a memorandum with a list of demands to bring a stop to the violence against women and schoolchildren in Belhar.
“I know that my accident happened for a reason because God wanted me to tell people he is a living God. I was very religious before the accident and I believe my religion pulled me through.
“I didn’t play rugby again but I started coaching at the school. In July I was appointed a Western Province Rugby schools referee.
“I also started playing golf at school and joined a dominoes club in Belhar.”
Recalling what led to him tearing a neck vein, having a swollen brain and suffering three strokes, Kalib said: “I was 16 years old at the time and playing on the wing in a trial match.
"I tackled a player, who fell on top of me and then other players landed on me as well as I hit my head on the ground. I was kept in hospital for a day, but I went to school the next morning because I had a mathematics test to write.
“The next morning before school I didn’t play touch rugby with the other guys because I didn’t feel too well. My one leg was basically lame. Then my left eye started to blur. That’s when I started to scream and said ‘I can’t see’. I then fainted in the quad.
"I was in a coma for seven days. On the seventh day all the doctors told my mother there is nothing they can basically do any more and that they needed to switch off the machines. I had been declared brain dead.
"My family were with the pastor in the hospital’s cold room to say last prayers when my cousin screamed to my grandmother that the bed was shaking.
"That’s when the miracle happened. I yawned and lifted up my arms and people rushed to call the doctors, who couldn’t believe what had happened because the machines had shown my brain was functioning only 1%.
“I went back to school in November and a check-up in November showed that my brain was back to working 99% and I was taken off all medication.
"For people who have one stroke, it can take years to recover, but I had three strokes and was walking again in a few months."
Aside from his faith, the main message that Kalib gets across in his motivational speeches is that "people need to appreciate life and while there will be obstacles in life, you must never give up”.
He also believes it’s essential that you “respect your parents and your teachers, who open doors for us”.
His favourite quote is by US politician Solomon Ortiz: “Education is the key to success in life, and teachers make a lasting impact in the lives of their students.”
He is looking forward to his Chinese challenge and expects to spend five years in the country.
“I will then be coming back to South Africa where I will try to make a change to our country. I believe much can be achieved with a positive mindset and faith in God.”
* Kalib can be contacted at 067 068 2880 or firstname.lastname@example.org if anyone has questions.