From the Field

Future president of Malawi: Mphatso

Wheelchairs like the one Mphatso sits in are part of World Vision’s disability inclusion work to help all kids experience fullness of life.

Ten-year-old Mphatso lives in Nkalemera Village in Malawi. Intelligent and jovial, Mphatso ranks third in a class of 109 students. That’s despite illness keeping him from sitting for three papers.

“Mphatso has demonstrated his love for education since he was very young,” says his mother, Marietta.

But Mphatso has a big barrier toward getting his education in his community: He cannot walk. But he didn’t let that deter him from seeking opportunities for attending school.

“Two years ago, he forced me to enroll him at Ntasaka Early Childhood Development Centre since he was just staying at home. I found it very challenging because at that time he had no wheelchair to support his movements,” says Marietta. This meant she had to carry him to and from school.

A boy’s belief in education

Marietta had carried Mphatso on her back since he was born. But as he grew, he started to become a burden to her and the family. So at first, Marietta told him he couldn’t go to school.

The family can’t afford to purchase a wheelchair. They have three other sons, and they depend on their father’s seasonal farming for survival. There’s no leftover money for such a big investment.

“I was afraid of the task of carrying him daily to and from school, and I was afraid that his friends there would be laughing at him because of his disability. But,” Marietta says, “he insisted, so I started carrying him to school.”

Marietta carried Mphatso for the entire academic year. Within a year, he’d progressed so well that he advanced to the community’s primary school.

This education offers him a chance of seeing his dreams come true. Mphatso even dreams of becoming the president of the Republic of Malawi.

Lifting a burden from mother and son

In May 2019, World Vision — through Malawi Against Polio — identified children in Mphatso’s village to receive wheelchairs, and he was one of the recipients.

Marietta says that before World Vision provided her family with the wheelchair, they faced a lot of challenges in supporting Mphatso’s education and health.

“We would leave him alone at home when the whole family had gone to the farm. This also made him feel isolated and not part of the family. He wasn’t looking very happy as he does these days,” she says. “He had no friends to play with as he was always locked up in the house.”

The wheelchair’s arrival transformed Mphatso’s life as well as that of the entire family.

The wheelchair provided by World Vision supports Mphatso’s pursuit of an education.
Mphatso works on his schoolwork sitting in his wheelchair. (©2020 World Vision/photo by Limbikani Kamlongera)

“The wheelchair has made Mphatso to feel as a member of the family,” says Marietta. “When we go to the farm, we go with him and leave him on his wheelchair so that he can see what is happening.”

And now Marietta no longer needs to carry Mphatso to school. Instead, his friends push him there and bring him home. Now he can spend time playing with friends because he’s not at home alone, shut up in the house.

Marietta thanks World Vision for the wheelchair as it helps her child’s dreams become reality.

“The wheelchair ensures that Mphatso does not miss class. He always wakes up early to get prepared for school. Even if he gets sick, we just push the wheelchair to the hospital without carrying him. All this has made him to be a healthy boy so that he can focus on his goals. The future looks bright,” says Marietta.

And that bright future just might include one day being president of Malawi.

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