Mbingwa Village … They were already waiting when the three members of the Board of Directors for the Malawi Project arrived at a school near their village. Jim Messenger, Dan Brewer, and Dick Stephens had only arrived the day before, but Wilson Tembo and his team with Action for Progress were not losing a minute getting the U.S. team moving on the ground.
The fourteen who had been screened and were to receive mobility units stood out in the crowd, they were the ones who were crawling on the ground. It was a moment of emotion for the American team. No matter how many times you see it you still have a disconnect with reality. How can this be? Stepping out of a country of such affluence and seeing this? Extreme poverty. No hope. No future. No way to move about. No way to contribute to the welfare of their families or their village. What is this I am seeing?
It is impossible to know what this moment means to each of the fourteen. Their lives are about to change. No more crawling in the mud during heavy rains, no more entering outside toilets on their hands and knees, and no more confinement to their tiny village huts because no one is strong enough to lift and transport them from one place to another. Now they can become productive, move about, go to church services, visit the market, attend a soccer game, start a business, go outside with their children and grandchildren.
Speeches were extended from several dignitaries who attended, including tribal authority and an official from the central government. Then the moment came. The first name was called, and the person crawled out of the crowd and over to the first mobility unit in the line of 14. The next name, the next, and the next, one by one until there were 14 smiling people sitting atop the bright new units. Color seemed to swish around the courtyard as all of them started moving about, twisting, turning, backing up, moving forward. Their excitement was visible. It was like the best ever birthday present, or perhaps an unimaginable Christmas celebration. No wonder. Their lives had just changed. As long as they possessed these mobility units everything would be different.