Disability is not Unability

Mary Chinomwe’s Story
Mary ChinomweMary is not sure about her birthday, but was born some 34 years ago. She was crippled from birth, and has never been able to get around on her own. Both of her parents died a few years ago. Her mother died due to hunger related disease during the severe drought in 2000-2001. Her father had died in 1998. This left Mary Branson with no one to care for her. There were four children in her family, but the other three died due to HIV/AIDS.

Mary has a small business at a store near her home, but she has had to crawl to her business each morning. The traditional leaders (tribal chiefs) in the area had advised her that it was too unsafe for her to crawl, and she must get another place to do her business or stop going out into the traffic. No one in her neighborhood had the money to help her with transportation. What must she do?

Mary has four children, and her husband divorced her because she was unable to work. It was a very difficult struggle as the husband had to carry her at his back everywhere, and he did not want this to continue in his life. If she were to loose her business there would be no one to care for her or her children. The town where they live is Madisi, a community of 1,500 people. It is 80 kilometers north of the capital city of Lilongwe, in central Malawi.

Then the wheelchairs arrived from America. Moses Banda, the Communication Director for Blessings Hospital reports, “We were able to deliver the wheelchair you sent for Mary. When we gave it to her we could see her jumping up and down, though she is not able to stand, she tried her best to do so. This is what Mary asked us to tell you,”

“Your gift has made it possible for me to care for myself and my four children. We will be able to support ourselves, and not have to be given a hand out by others. I was divorced because I was unable to work, but from today I will show him that disability is not un-ability. If you give us chance to do the job we will show you that we are able to do it on our own. Your example of helping me has given me the opportunity to tell everyone that we can all succeed.”

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