"If a child is educated you increase their opportunities for employment and they learn life skills that help them to overcome challenges in the community" Fred Semakula, Motivation

Inspiring confidence and fighting for inclusion

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with over half the population living in poverty. For those with a disability, life is even tougher. Discrimination is commonplace and to fight for their own inclusion, disabled people need self-belief and inspiration from people who understand the unique challenges they face.

But without appropriate wheelchairs and lacking in confidence, many people are simply side-lined, unable to go to school or find work. Studies have shown that 35% of people with disabilities in Malawi have never attended school, and those who do make it to the classroom are frequently turned away by teachers who either fear their condition or don’t see the value in educating a disabled child.

Our latest work

Our aim is to increase survival and reduce poverty, by giving children and adults in Malawi the right wheelchairs and the right training and information to keep them healthy and mobile. With the right wheelchair and support, children can go to school, adults can go to work and both have the chance to play an active part in their communities and be fully included in all aspects of everyday life.

Over the course of the last three years, we have achieved a great deal thanks to UK Aid from the UK Government (DfID), The Swarovski Foundation and the Norwegian Association of the Disabled. As this project has now drawn to a close, we have made great strides towards improving services and resources for disabled people in Malawi but know there is always more to be done.  That’s why this year we are building on the momentum of this project and are focusing our efforts on a number of key areas.

Inclusive education

This year, we will continue to get more disabled children into education. Our experienced disability inclusion trainers are working with both teachers and community leaders to dispel myths and give them the skills they need to include disabled children in the classroom.

Motivation Peer Training

Our Motivation Peer Training, provided by wheelchair users for wheelchair users, teaches simple techniques that save lives - such as how to prevent pressure ulcers, and how to manage bladder and bowel effectively. In addition to continuing the roll out this training, we will also mentor our Peer Trainers as they make home and hospital visits to reach more adults with spinal cord injuries.

Parent Carer Training

This year, we will continue to empower parents of children with Cerebral Palsy by offering training to Parent Support Groups. This training helps parents understand the true causes of their child’s disability empower them to address community discrimination whilst also promoting their child’s good health and communication development. We are also consolidating a number of Parent Support Groups through visits by trained volunteers to provide guidance and refresher training on techniques in caring for children with Cerebral Palsy.

Transforming wheelchair provision

We are working closely with the Malawi Wheelchair Co-ordinating Trust, whose members include disability activists, government ministers and wheelchair experts. The Trust has already developed a set of guidelines on wheelchair standards to be adopted by the Malawi government,  and will continue to advocate for inclusive policies at national level.

Take a listen to this welcome song sung by parents of children with Cerebral Palsy of Chigomzgo Parent Support Group:

This project is supported by True Colours Trust, Swarovski Foundation and Norwegian Association for Disabled.