"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 the poorest country 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. It's estimated that 90% of disabled children in developing countries do not got to 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

This holistic project not only provides children and adults with appropriate wheelchairs, but also gives training and support to help people live full and independent lives.

Our Motivation Peer Training, provided by wheelchair users for wheelchair users and the parents of disabled children, teaches simple techniques that save lives - such as how to prevent pressure ulcers, and how to manage bladder and bowel effectively. As well as health advice, our experienced trainers also give people information about their rights as a disabled person and how to stand up for them - for some it is a revelation to hear that they are entitled to rights at all.

One of the aims of this project is to get more disabled children into education. We are helping schools to include wheelchair users by building ramps, widening doorways and making toilets accessible. Our experienced disability inclusion trainers are also working with teachers to dispel myths and give them the skills they need to include disabled children in the classroom.

Another aspect of the project focuses on poverty reduction by providing parents and carers of disabled children with tangible skills and networks to independently generate their own income. Parents and carers are supported to join a village saving scheme whereby each member contributes modest funds, to be used as a loan by other members. People we have worked with report that accessing credit in this way has enabled them to procure goods that they can then sell on as part of their small business.


Games such as Stuck in the Mud help to improve wheelchair skills and build confidence:

Recent Progress

This past year has been one of incredible hardship for Malawi. In April of this year, a state of national disaster was declared following prolonged dry spells during the 2015/16 farming season. Today, Malawi continues to face wide spread food shortages meaning our work is needed more than ever.

Despite these challenges, over the last 12 months the project has achieved some very positive and tangible results:


  • We have set up a Malawi Wheelchair Taskforce to influence government to establish a national strategy on wheelchair services in the medium to longer term.
  • We helped mobilise 573 people by ensuring they were provided with suitable and appropriate mobility aids.
  • A total of 367 children from across the project’s five target areas were fitted with specially tailored wheelchairs suited to their individual needs.


  • This past year has seen the accessible adaptations of nine school buildings.
  • In addition, 292 teachers and community leaders were given training detailing disability rights in the hope that these figures will have a positive and informed influence on the attitudes of others.

 Health and wellbeing

  • Motivation’s Parent Carer Training courses were attended by a total of 339 parents and carers.
  • Of the 40 parents that were interviewed, 72% recognised improvements in their child’s feeding, seating and positioning.

 Fighting Poverty

  • 173 parents and carers have benefited from partaking in village saving schemes, with preliminary data suggesting that some 90% of partners saw an increase in their household income.

With this three and a half year project soon drawing to a close, we feel confident that its impact will be long lasting and look forward to updating you in the coming months.

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

This project is generously supported by UK Aid from the UK government, as well as a donation from the Swarovski Foundation.