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Disability not inability

 The Big Issue Malawi 09 July 2019

Some stories are unique and exceptional whilst others have been so moving and have touched our lives in one way or the other. Here is one such story of Malawian Kelvin Maliwa who has proven that we can exceed the expectations society sets for us. (318 Words) - By Mwai Mtumodzi

Big Issue Malawi_disability

Maliwa was born 34 years ago in Namputu village under the traditional authority, Chikumbu, in Mulanje district. Born into a family of four, he was the only child with disabilities. Maliwa has never walked nor stood upright.

Whilst other people with disabilities have migrated from their villages to cities to beg from passers-by, Maliwa who was born with no hands and disabled legs remained in his village. Like most disabled Malawians, he never had the privilege to attend formal schooling.

To people in Namputu, Maliwa was just like any other disabled person, looking for people's sympathy and help. Little did the village know of his desire and determination to change his life. Maliwa found solace at a radio repair workshop in a neighboring village. Here he could interact with people from other villages and had the chance to listen to the radio. It was therefore no wonder, that he developed a special interest in repairing radios.

"I used to watch with keen interest as my friend was repairing radios. Little by little I started learning some parts of radio sets and how to diagnose a fault", Maliwa recalls. He never attended a technical training school, yet what he learned at the workshop was enough for him to establish his own business. As Maliwa lacks two healthy hands, he now mends radios, using his mouth and a home-made tool kit.

"Before I started repairing radios people always thought of me as a beggar. But now all this has changed. They refer to me as the radio repair man and not the disabled man." explains Maliwa, describing the respect he has earned from his community. Today, Maliwa is able to fend for himself and contribute to the development of the village, or to put it in the words of a fellow villager, Richard Gulani, Maliwa's story is a live example of the concept that disability is not inability.


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Originally published by The Big Issue Malawi. ©