Now that Gevinah’s 11 year old daughter Masika has the right wheelchair, she has just one dream: That she’ll be able to take her to school one day.Masika has cerebral palsy and epilepsy. She was born in Uganda, where discrimination against people with disabilities is widespread. Many believe it’s caused by witchcraft, or a curse. Others just see disabled children as a ‘burden’.
Sadly, Masika’s dad felt the same, and prevented her from getting medical attention… saying instead that his daughter should be ‘left to die’. Genivah found the courage to leave her husband just a year ago, and moved to a new village to take care of her two children.
The wrong wheelchair can be dangerous
In January this year, she started attending a new support group for parents and carers in the village, set up by Motivation and local disability organisation, (the Rwenzori Association of Parents of Children with Disabilities). It was close enough to walk there, but Genivah had to push Maskia in her old, heavy, adult-sized wheelchair… The journey was long, and incredibly dangerous.
It took Genivah two hours. Every few meters she had to stop and reposition Maskia, to prevent her from sliding out of her over-sized wheelchair and falling onto the road. And because of the ill-fitting chair, Masika developed pressure ulcers – sores on the skin that can be life threatening if left untreated.
Sadly, this is a common story. Donated orthopedic wheelchairs regularly arrive in developing countries, from people who have the best intentions. In reality, they do more harm than good, and are rarely suitable for the rough terrain found in some of the world’s poorest countries.The right chair, with the right training
When Genivah arrived at the support group with Maskia, she was instantly referred to a local wheelchair service. People at this service had been trained by Motivation to provide the right wheelchairs, in the right way, so they were able to give Maskia a Motivation wheelchair that was fitted properly, to meet her complex needs.
And because it’s designed for rough terrain, it’s much easier to push on the uneven ground. It now takes just half an hour to get to the support group, and Genivah no longer has to worry about her daughter falling out onto the road.
It’s not just Maskia that has benefited from the right wheelchair, in the right way. Because Maskia is more comfortable, she is much more content. This means Genivah can get on with her weaving, something that has the potential to provide income for her family. As well as having dreams for her daughter, Genivah has ambitions for herself, and hopes to start her own business.
Thanks to the support group, Gevinah learned to look after Maskia in the right way. She also discovered for the first time that Epilepsy is not contagious, and could tell her family that it’s okay to share cups and plates with her daughter. Just a simple piece of knowledge can be so powerful.
Motivation is working in Uganda to change lives and save lives. There are many more children like Maskia. By providing the right wheelchairs, as well as training for parents, carers and teachers, we can give them the best chance of living a healthy and happy life. We’re also working with local schools to make sure they’re accessible and welcoming – so that mothers like Genivah can give their children a future. Read more here…