In Malawi, 85 percent of the population 19 million people live in small villages that dot the rural countryside, and for those with mobility issues that means they are often confined to their mud-walled, thatched-roof homes.
For adults, a trip away from their village is an impossible dream with deeply pot-holed dirt roads that are hard enough to traverse when dry and slick and dangerous when wet.
For handicapped children, the only way for them to get around is to have someone carry them on their backs.
The need for wheelchairs in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world with people “living” on an average of less than $2 per day, cannot be overstated.
But thanks to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® over the years we have been able to ship hundreds, if not thousands, of wheelchairs to our partners in Cameroon, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone, and most recently, Malawi.
Among those whose lives have been transformed by having a basic (meaning non-powered) wheelchair is Malawian Rita Bonzo who at age 6 suffered a serious accident which left her without the use of her legs and all through the rest of her childhood and into adulthood she struggled to get around with the help of others in the village of Lameck.
But despite the challenges she faced for most of her life, Rita married and has since given birth to eight children and never gave hope that one day her fondest dream would come true – that she would be able to become independent and traverse throughout her village on her own.
“For her daily life, Rita depended greatly on her family members and kindhearted neighbors,” reported Nisha Mandani, founder and director of Bread and Water for Africa® partner, the Our AIM Foundation (OAF), who added that her situation had been discovered during a visit by OAF outreach staff to the Lameck village.
“Assessing her condition, the team decided to put her at the top of the list of beneficiaries for aid from a shipment of medical equipment shipped to OAF in Malawi by Bread and Water for Africa®,” said Nisha.
That day came on the afternoon of Friday of, September 10, when OAF staff visited her village and presented her with a wheelchair shipped over from the United States by Bread and Water for Africa®.
“This was her red-letter day,” says Nisha.
And as for Rita herself, “Words cannot express how I am feeling. Now I can move independently and go to the market on my own.
“I am very appreciative for this gift to Our AIM Foundation and Bread and Water for Africa®. Only God can reward for this.”