PODCAM counsels a family for locking up a member with disabilities for 30 years.

The news about Estery Chakhumbira, 30 years old lady with severe cerebral palsy was all over in the social media.

Estery lives in Lumbadzi, Traditional Authority Mkukula in Dowa District of Malawi. She lives with her mother who has been a widow since 1991 when her daughter, Estery was a year old. The mother who is about 69 years old, explained that Estery was born prematurely at 6 months, with weak nervous system. She cannot stand not sit. She has to always lie on her back or stomach. Her both legs are very weak from her knees and both hands can hardly hold anything. Hence, Estery relies on someone nearly her for everything. Worse still, she can hardly utter a meaningful word though she can hear. Her mother stopped going with her for physiotherapy at six due to increased weight to be carried on the back, as she became so poor that she could not afford transport fares to the rehabilitation centre some 25 Kms at the Central Hospital. At one point, they got a wheelchair but I found out that they rarely used it till it got lusty and worn out. I advised the mother and Estery’s elder brother that once the wheelchair was fixed, they should make sure Estery uses it outside the house for her change of environment, she should have chance to chat with other people for her socialization and Vitamin D from the sun. I advised the mother that locking up her daughter in the house was a sign that she was feeling ashamed of her daughter’s disabilities. She should learn to accept the condition of her daughter so that the community can also accept her. I promised to followup with them once the wheelchair is brought back. Other individuals and organizations have been following up with the story by visiting the family with different material and moral support. One such an organization is the Female Sex Workers Association whose Executive Director, Zinenani Majawa, carried a variety of items to support the family.

Author: Msenga Mulungu, Parents of Disabled Children of Malawi (PODCAM), Malawi.

I work for Parents of Disabled Children Association of Malawi (PODCAM). My role is to advocate for rights of Children with disabilities through their parents.

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