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CRAWLING IN THE SAND

Florence Sinthani

Salima, Malawi … Sitting under a nearby tree, she watched intently as Tembo and Kasalika unloaded a number of hand-peddled mobility units. Florence Sinthani is a 15-years-old girl from a village in Malawi. What are they doing? Who are they here to see?

Visitors to this part of Africa are surprised to discover some of the best beaches in the sub-Sahara, along with great scuba diving, a wide array of tropical fish, various types of boating, moderate prices, and a friendly population. However, what attracts tourists can be very different for a local person with mobility problems. What charms others can actually trap and restrict people like Florence from moving about the neighborhood. A primary student at a nearby school, she has had to crawl through deep sand in the dry season, and mud in the rainy season. Because of the low elevation near the lake Florence is faced with temperatures that can reach the highest in the country. These conditions mean that, in spite of her intense desire to be an entrepreneur, she is often just too tired to make the tedious effort needed to get to class.

Everything changed after her father sought help from Action for Progress, and gained a favorable response concerning one of the hand pedaled mobility units. That was what Wilson and Kasaklika were doing that day in her village, and in a short period of time, she was happily peddling home on her brand, new hand-peddled mobility unit. Seeing her so happy, Sinthani said to the two men who had just changed the life of his daughter, “You have heard for yourself what she intends to achieve. It is true having a disability is not the inability to do something important. When these people are positively empowered, they can contribute to the development of their community. This device will help Florence, and it gives great relief to her family. It is a stepping-stone to the achievement of her dreams. Life has changed! An impact has been made!”  

This took place in a location where the tribal government still rules this part of Malawi, and her home, Mtenje Village, is governed by Chief Khombedza.

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