Lilongwe, Malawi … The statistics are staggering. According to the Malawi Housing and Population Census report for 2018 (page 28), there are 1,556,670 people in Malawi suffering from some form of disability. This includes hearing, seeing, walking, speaking, etc. Of that number 418,669 have walking challenges. But that is not the real story. The real story is not numbers, the real story is actual people; men, women, and children who struggle every day just to get out of bed, struggle to move into the next room, struggle to go to school or work, and struggle with the challenge of survival through the day. When the day ends, this struggle does not. Living in an environment where there is little in the way of affordable mobility assistance, and where few can move from place to place is unthinkable for most of the western world. Simply passing out of the doorway of their own home still leaves those with mobility issues lacking in much of an expectation from life! Expectations are small when life’s offerings are measured by the number of feet one can crawl. This is true of every adult with mobility issues, but it is sad beyond belief when you see the problems faced by small children.
“It has been a challenge for me, as a mother, to carry her to school every day. When I do that I do not have enough time to then go to the market and carry out our family business,” explains Egley Martin, the mother of 5-year-old Divine Martin. The family comes from a small village, Zakana Village in the Nthisi District of Malawi, under the jurisdiction of Tribal Authority Chilowoko. Divine had learned to walk but suddenly lost that ability at the age of one after suffering from cerebral malaria. In spite of the paralysis, young Divine is currently enrolled in nursery school. Although she has trouble walking, as well as talking, her mother does not give up on helping her.
With the arrival of Action for Progress, supported by Mobility Ministries in Demotte, Indiana, Mobility Worldwide in Holland Michigan, and the Malawi Project in central Indiana, Divine’s mother now has hope that her daughter will succeed in her desire to move about, learn in school, and interact with her friends. Divine’s mother can now go back to overseeing the family business and watching her daughter’s progress. For Egley, it has never about numbers like 418,660. For her, it has always been about the number one, Divine, her now mobile 5-year-old daughter.