Thanks so much to our partner in the field for this powerful, testimony straight from Malawi.
Kalino Village – Malawi … We are deep in Africa’s sub-Sahara in the tiny nation of Malawi. On a world map it is almost indistinguishable, but to its 14 million inhabitants it is home. As one of the poorest nations on earth the countryside is still strewn with mud-hut villages where blacktop roads are nearly non-existent and people with disabilities find themselves helpless to get around. To those who suffer disabilities and the lack of mobility it can almost be an impossible place to live.
It was a busy day in southern Malawi. It was cool with a weak wind blowing in every direction. We were several miles east of the Namikango Mission and distributing wheelchairs. Thanks to the Malawi Project and the Free Wheelchair Mission, both from the US, we had recently received a new shipment of over 500 wheelchairs.
We distributed the first wheelchair to a boy who was born with physical challenges. His educational future was about to close down. He was unable to go to School because it had become impossible for his parents to continue to carry him 7 kilometers each way to and from school. Determined to be educated, the boy felt betrayed when he had to stay at home while the other children attended classes. But the parents had no option. They had nowhere to get help to assist them. When they heard the news about the availability of wheelchairs a relative to the boy brought to Namikango Mission a hard copy of the boy’s photo as a witness of how the boy qualifies to receive a wheelchair. It was great faith on the part of this man. He could not bring the boy such a great distance to the Mission, but he thought of bringing the photo. When the wheelchair was made available to him he was unable to take it 31 kilometers to the boy’s home. Arrangement were made to deliver the wheelchair Upon receiving the means for the boy to be able to go to school the parents expressed their gratitude to the Wheelchair Mission and the Malawi Project for the donation. ”We did not expect this. We just say thank you for the help,” the Father said.
Before the truck could leave for the return trip to the mission, a tired, sweat covered man rushed up. “Only if possible, please help! There’s another girl, she is on the way, and she needs your help”. The man continued speaking rapidly, not even taking the time to compose himself and present a detailed message. Later, it was learned that he had met a girl who heard that we brought wheelchairs to a nearby village. The girl did not wait for help to get where we were. She started crawling on her knees. After crawled for several meters she could not get past the rocks spread out in front of her. She sat down. It was here where she met the man who advised her to wait there. The man ran to tell us about Patuma Masautso. Thankfully there was one wheelchair remaining.
The truck changed course to meet Patuma Masautso, and to learn more about her. She is from KalinoVillage, in the southeastern district of Zomba. She is a Yao by tribe. Due to her mobility problems, Patuma has never gone to school. She does not know how old she is, but thinks she might be around 18 years of age. According to her, if she had a chance to have had a wheelchair years ago, she would have had a chance to learn at school and become a nurse. However, even though it had taken this long she expressed happiness because she will from now be able to comfortably move on a wheelchair. “I was feeling pain in my knees when I crawl for a long time”. Patuma was born with her legs bent backwards from the knees. She had never been able to use them for anything except to crawl on the helpless bruised knees.
Having accomplished our mission we returned to Namikango. It was evident what a wheelchair can do for a person in a remote MalawianVillage who has no hope, no plans, and no anticipation to ever own a wheelchair up until just today. Now it is all different.