Maya Angelou once said “if you are trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be”. It is breath taking to see Loide Ndemueda embody the same massage.
Loide is a 25-year-old woman who grew up in the beautiful town of Bela-Bela. She had a gloomy upbringing. “I lived a life of an adult at a young age and had to learn how to take care of myself and be domesticated early in life,” says Ndemueda.
During those tough years, a seed was being planted in her life into womanhood. Despite all the struggles she faced she was fortunate that her immediate environment was nonviolent and often practiced love and kindness towards one another.
On July 13, 2010, Loide’s life took a life altering turn when a man deliberately set her and 16 other school children on fire. “Ten of the children are deceased including my younger sister. I spent three years without formal education because I was on a wheelchair with disfigurement of hands and no school wanted the responsibility of a disabled person,” says Loide. At that moment in her life, she believed that the fire had caused her to forfeit her dreams but despite it all she fought against all odds and she made the fire incident her weapon.
“I have been confronted with extensive rejection, discrimination and prejudice. However, I understand that it has been God’s way in leading in my life” express’s Loide. Through her recovery journey, she went through multiple reconstructive surgeries and she acknowledges that God illuminated the light of hope throughout her journey of healing which she is still undertaking.
The world we live in defines beauty and enforce women to look a certain way. It is imperative to have a strong sense of identity and self-acceptance like Loide because self-awareness allowed her to take ownership of her life. In addition, she steps in places and breaks boundaries where a woman with scars is not given opportunities.
Loide shows up in spaces of pageantry and says “I influence the beauty pageant world by showing up with my scars, as the best version of who I am”. She has been intentional in extensively paving a path for everyone who looks different and those who feel a sense of neglect, to participate but understand that their beauty is beyond their faces.
Ndemueda is seeing stereotypes being confronted in many different ways for women, which is leading to a positive inclusive and equal space where all are given an opportunity to participate.
“In future I would like to see myself in a legal environment, strategically finding ways in combating Gender Based Violence,” says Loide. In the interim, she is growing her foundation called #IFoundBeautyinMyScars. The foundation was established in 2017 and advocates for GBV. “The foundation has created a safe space for survivors to find healing and they should know that there is a crown and success attached to their pain and name,” says Loide.
“We live in a world in which for the longest of times women were confronted by inferiority and inequality and that is why women’s month to me is a reminder of the pain and success endured by the women of 1976. We are reminded not to settle for less. We must stand in solidarity with each other and take leadership roles. Without women there is no life on earth,” concludes Loide Ndemueda.
By Sandra Lesenyeho