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DISABILITY VS. POVERTY

Dorris Masango

Lilongwe, Malawi … There is often a direct link between disability and poverty. Disability many increase the risk of poverty, and poverty may increase the risk of disability. Unfortunately, these links of poverty and disability affect even our youngest as evidenced in the following research:

Children with disabilities are less likely to attend class, thus experiencing limited opportunities for human capital formation and facing reduced employment opportunities and decreased productivity in adulthood.” (WHO/World Bank, World Report on Disability, 2011).

The young lady in the photo is a vivid reminder of the struggles of those with mobility issues. She has never owned any type of mobility device, so she certainly knows the difficulty of literally crawling long distances just to attend school. She was the only one in her class in this particular situation. A few people in her community had access to a wheelchair or mobility device, but she had no idea how she could ever borrow, much less own, such a thing. 

But now, thanks to Action for Progress, Doris Masago, 18, a girl from Banngwe – Blantyre owns a new mobility device. In 2003 Doris suffered with malaria which robbed her of the ability to walk. Her mother carried Doris to school on her back through the nursery and primary education years, but as Doris grew older her mother could no longer physically manage this. At times they hired a bicycle to transport her, but due to the high cost the family could not continue to pay for transportation. 

Despite her severe physical limitations, Doris continued her education. Due to her hard work she passed standard 8 and now is in form 1 in a secondary school in Bangwe, the home district of the city of Blantyre.

Happiness spread throughout the entire family when word was received that Action for Progress had identified Doris as a qualified candidate for one of their hand pedaled mobility units. At first, she thought it was a dream, until the very moment the brand-new mobility unit was handed over to her. Her once bleak future has changed to one of hope. With the delivery of one mobility unit, many lives have been positively affected.

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