"Now I know that I deserve to have rights too." Patuma, Malawi

When you're living with a disability in a country like Malawi, help can be hard to find. But everyone needs a friend who knows what they're going through and, for Patuma, support from our peer mentors was life-changing...

We first met Patuma at home in her rural village in Malawi. A mother of two young children, she developed tuberculosis of the spine, a condition that left her unable to walk.

Surrounded by rocky landscape and miles from the nearest town, Patuma became reliant on her loved ones to do even the most simple of tasks. Her old wheelchair couldn't cope with the challenging terrain around her house, and so she became isolated, trapped inside four walls. As her independence vanished, so did her confidence.

Thanks to you, Motivation was able to provide Patuma with a new 'Rough Terrain' wheelchair, so she could navigate the uneven ground around her home much more easily. The wheelchair gave Patuma hope, but she still lacked the confidence to go out into the community on her own.

Like many new wheelchair users, she worried she wouldn’t have the strength to propel herself, and was scared of falling out. She was anxious about losing control of her bladder in public, and with no information on how to stay healthy, she started the develop pressure sores that she didn't know how to prevent, or look after.

But things changed when Patuma met Bentot, a peer mentor trained by Motivation. Paralysed in a road traffic accident, Bentot is an experienced wheelchair-user who now gives her time to inspire others. At first, Patuma felt nervous leaving her home and making the trip to our peer training course, but when she met Bentot she relaxed immediately; she felt that Bentot understood her.

“I can trust Bentot, because she knows what I’m going through.”

But, it wasn't just skills that Patuma gained. With Bentot's encouragement, she got back her confidence and sense of self-worth too. At the end of the training she told us:

“The most important thing I learnt was that people with disabilities have rights too.”