Empowering parents and carers and including disabled children in society

The challenge

  • 91% disabled people in Malawi live in rural communities
  • 13% of babies are born before they reach full term
  • Less than 10% of disabled children in Africa go to school

Malawi is one of the poorest countries in the world with many children living below the poverty line.

Poor maternal health means that babies are often born prematurely or following birth complications. Rates of childhood disability are high.

Wheelchairs aren’t often available for children in Malawi. This means they are often left isolated and vulnerable to life threatening conditions like pressure ulcers and urinary infections.

There is a huge amount of stigma around disability, too, and many parents face pressure to abandon their disabled children due to a sense of burden and shame.

For Tapiwa, attitudes towards her muscular dystrophy made school a real challenge. 

“A friend told me that I am not supposed to hang out with them as I would transfer my disability to them,” she told us. 

Without a wheelchair and unable to move herself, Tapiwa sat on the floor and classmates would step on her as they passed by. 

Motivation in Malawi

Motivation has worked with local partners in Malawi for nearly two decades. During this time we’ve trained nurses in spinal cord injury management, supplied wheelchairs and supported many disabled people to gain the skills they need to stay healthy and mobile.

In recent years, we have turned our attention to the challenges faced by disabled children and their families. We’re focused on reducing families’ poverty, supporting parents and carers, improving the health of children with mobility needs, and helping them to join in with play and school.

We also help existing wheelchair services to improve with training, mentoring, workshops and service assessments.

Our priorities

Supporting parents to support children

In rural villages across Malawi, parents are often unable to access healthcare information or resources for their disabled child. That means they don't understand their needs or know how to care them. Children can be left alone at home, lying on the floor and becoming increasingly vulnerable to life-threatening conditions

Motivation is setting up local Parent Support Groups that enable families to receive training on vital healthcare. Training helps parents learn how to feed, play and communicate with their child as well as how to improve their postural, health and nutrition.

These groups also provide a vital network of supportive friends for parents who may otherwise feel alone and isolated.

Growing family income

We’re providing seed funding to Parent Support Groups so they can set up village savings groups. Through these groups, members can access modest loans to buy seeds or livestock, which they can use to generate an income for their families.

Wheelchair services

We are supporting and mentoring staff in four wheelchair service centres, which we established through previous projects. Across these services, hundreds of disabled children will be assessed and prescribed with a wheelchair to suit their specific needs as they grow.  

We’re also providing referral training for community based rehabilitation workers, so they can identify and support wheelchair users in their communities.

Tapiwa's wheelchair and the peer training she received has given her  mobility, support and advice that's changed her life at school. “Since I received the wheelchair my grades in class have improved. I do not worry or cry in class as I used to. My friends are very supportive also. They ask me what I need and they are always happy to help.”

Empowering wheelchair users

Alongside our work with children, we are continuing to provide wheelchairs to disabled adults. Many also need additional support to feel confident and independent, which is why we are also providing training in everyday life skills, such as bladder and bowel management, wheelchair handling and disability rights.

Find out more

If you have further questions about our work in Malawi or would like to receive extra information, please get in touch on 0117 966 0398 or [email protected]

Support Motivation

You could fund vital Parent Carer Training in Malawi and throughout our focus countries by making a donation today.