Kalino Village, Southern Malawi … “Where could she be. She is no where to be found. But how can this be as she cannot walk? Question after question we could not answer as we waited for her to come to meet with us. It had been a rough time getting to this village and most of its inhabitants were out tending their gardens. The guide showed us the way to her house, then asked us to wait near the road as he went forward to find her. In a few minutes he returned to report she was not there. He had already sent some boys to find her. We were soon advised she was still within the parimeters of the village. It seemed she had crawled all the way to the other side of the village to greet the visitors. She did not know from which direction we would be coming.
Patuma Masautso is 35 years old and a resident of Kalino Village in Southern Malawi. Her dream has been to run her own business, but it has remained only a far off dream for most of her life because she cannot walk. She has deformed legs from the knees down and can only crawl along in the dirt. Consequently she has severe pains from getting very bruised knees.
We found her at the far end of the village sitting by the road waiting. When she learned we were coming she started crawling towards us. As I grew closer I could hear her repeating, “I have a wheelchair. I have a wheelchair. I have a wheelchair.” When she reached us she rushed right past me and over to the mobility unit.
She was so extremely excited and quickly tried to cycle it after she was put on the ‘driving seat’. A crowd of children followed her as she moved forward. That brought even more excitement from the entire village. It’s not just a way to get around in the village. It is a development tool. Patuma will be able to move outside the village, socialize with other people far from her home, and reach out for the dream for which she has been waiting for a lifetime. Life will be totally different.
Reported by Wilson Tembo, Malawi