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GIVEN REASON TO SMILE

Given a Reason to Smile

Mthekeso Village, Malawi … Cars rush along the tarmac road, filled with laughing tourists, excited they will soon experience sandy beaches while watching the sunset on sparkling waters. But for Chisomo there are no sparkling waves or sandy beaches.

Neighbors sing hymns and praise God at Sunday services while enjoying friends and neighbors. But for Chisomo there were few Sunday worship times, and few visits with neighbors.

This has been the outlook for 19-year-old Chisomo Jackson, from eastern Malawi for some time. Circumstances made her an unfortunate girl living near the big lake, without a future and without hope of anything changing.

Some days there seemed little reason to get out of bed. 

Some days her life seemed to contain no future. 

Some days there seemed little reason to smile. 

Some days… Some days…

Then Action for Progress came to her village, and she met Wilson Tembo. He had her name. It had been given to him by the Malawi Council for the Handicapped (MACOHA), a Malawi government agency as a good candidate for a hand peddled mobility unit.  MACOHA’s mission statement reads, “Its goal is to facilitate the empowerment of people with disabilities to enable them to actively participate and be included in social and economic development activities of their communities and the country.” Wilson and his team at Action for Progress work closely with this agency.

Chisomo turned to Wilson Tembo, “My mother told me in 2003 I was seriously ill. They admitted me to the hospital for two days. By the end of my illness, they told mother I would never walk.” Wilson noted one could see tears in her eyes as she described her life. 

Wilson confessed it was impossible for anyone to fully understand her pain, as she dropped out of school, stopped going to church, stayed away from village gatherings unless they experienced it first-hand.

Though the sadness etched on her face could be seen during much of the visit, her future would change drastically as her husband of only a year placed her on her new means of transportation and freedom of movement.

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