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How does a second hand book help a child with cerebral palsy in Malawi?

By donating and buying second hand books throughout the year.

We’ve raised enough money to help 7 families.   It’s truly amazing how such a relatively small donation can have such a big impact on the lives of children with cerebral palsy in Malawi.    Working with the our friend Gordon Cowie and the charity Friends of Sick Children in Malawi, we have provided wheelchairs for 7 children.

These give them dignity, the chance to play, go to school, join in family life.   And helps the health of their mothers who no longer have to carry them .

Immobility in Malawi

Malawi, a former British Protectorate, is one of the very poorest nations of the World, with high levels of people poverty and mortality rates that would shock most people in the ‘First World’.

If life for the average, ‘healthy’ Malawian child is poor then life for those with severe mobility problems can be dire. The consequences for the child and its family can be many and debilitating.

The Government of Malawi does not provide mobility aids.

Even if they could find them, most families would not be able to afford a mobility aid for their child. Without a mobility aid the child cannot go to school and will have a very limited social life.

If the child cannot go to school, in most cases this restricts both parents from working therefore impacting the family income needed just to survive.

Without a mobility aid, like a wheelchair, parents and guardians carry the child on their backs. As the child grows the weight causes back problems for the adults….and so the above negative cycle continues.

The prosthetics workshop at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi has been developed to make wheelchairs, home static chairs and orthotic devices, each to meet the specific needs of those children fortunate enough to receive charitable funds to meet the cost.

Just a couple of the stories of the children we helped.

Malawian boy in a wheelchair with trayHenry is 9 yrs old.   His family lives by selling smoked fish at their home. Henry’s mum was carrying him on her back until his growing weight caused her general body pain.   Henry has Cerebral Palsy, is epileptic and is on medication.  He is incontinent but has good level of sensation. He cannot sit on his own without support and has never used a wheelchair before.   He has been assessed and fitted with an appropriate child’s wheelchair with pressure relieving cushion to prevent him from getting pressure sores and provide him with comfort. It also has a lap tray to be used when eating. The mother was also taught basic repairs of the wheelchair when it develops a problem.


Malawian boy with legs in plaster ina wheelchair with tray

Ibrahim will soon be 8 years old.   The family had spent a lot of time and money seeking help from traditional healers because the mother in-law believed that the child had been bewitched!


Family reactions

All the families were surprised and very, very grateful when told that their children would be assessed, fitted and supplied with a wheelchair or a home chair for tots through the generosity of Soroptimists International (Kenilworth and District) of England.

These are significant quality of life changing gifts for all the families and gifts they would never be able to afford.



And if you fancy to read more about these and other life changing appliances you can see how I got on when I visited the Queen Elisabeth Central Hospital in Blantyre