Michael Jnr's enthusiasm and excitement for school isn't what you'd expect from an average 13 year old. But he knows what it's like to be left behind at home...

“I really enjoy school! I am good at everything and am head monitor! When I grow up, I would like to be a lawyer. I want to make lots of money because I want to buy a good car. A red one!”

Michael Jnr's enthusiasm and excitement for school isn't what you'd expect from an average 13 year old. But he knows what it's like to be left at home while his brothers and sisters go off to learn every day. And now he values each moment at school with them.

The reason for his isolation? Michael Jnr has spina bifida and was using a locally-made wheelchair until recently. It didn't fit him properly and the design made it unsuitable for the terrain between home and school. This caused all sorts of problems for Michael Jnr and his family.

He would become affected by pressure sores and had to recover at home, meaning that he sometimes had to skip a year.

The long, hilly, muddy walk to school was not possible in his wheelchair, so his dad would carry him for 50 minutes there and back - come rain or shine. 

Michael Jr. now has a Motivation Rough Terrain wheelchair. It's three-wheeled design means that it is far easier for his dad to push him and it's a lot cheaper than hiring a boda boda (local taxi). It is still tiring and takes a long time, but Michael and his dad think it's worth it.

"I feel more confident and have more self-esteem. I used to just get left on my own but now I can be independent and even help my family to wash clothes. I can do a wheelie in my wheelchair and get up the hills. My hands are stronger and my arms are now manly!”

Michael’s headteacher, Sarah, is pleased with how Michael's life has changed, too: 

“We are so very proud of Michael. He is loved by almost everyone. We are so happy with his progress – when he started moving around, we all cheered! If it wasn’t for people like you, I just don’t know what children like Michael would do.”

Photos © Matt Grayson