Interview with Pamela, a single mother of a child with disability from Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa.

Pamela, (Mother) with 4 year old Irenaeus Chisiza

Msenga: Madam can you introduce yourself?

Pamela: I am Pamela Chipeka and am 29 years old. I am staying in Area 25, Lilongwe.

Msenga: What can you tell me about your child?

Pamela: My child is Irenaeus Chisiza, male and 4 years of age. He was born with Cerebral Palsy (microcephalus) and is also epileptic.

Msenga: When did you realize that Irenaeus had disabilities?

Pamela: I knew about his condition before he was born. I was scammed when I was expectant, and was told that the baby had some challenges. As a result, I got prepared psychologically for the difficulties I was to experience in nurturing the child after birth.

Msenga: Where is the father of your son?

Pamela: Unfortunately, I cannot trace his where about. We parted before Irenaeus was born. However, there is no connection between our separation and his disabilities.

Msenga: How do you feel for being a mother of a child with disabilities who at 4, cannot sit, stand or talk?

Pamela: I have a positive feeling because I was psychologically prepared with that early identification.

Msenga: What are the attitudes of your relatives towards your child? Pamela: All my relatives have accepted my child’s conditions and they are morally supportive.

Msenga: What about your neighbours? What are their attitudes towards your son? Pamela: It is a mixed bag. For sure, some neighbours have negative attitudes. They like discouraging maids that I hire to abandon my child with disabilities. They advise them wrongly. Hence, I keep changing maids. Some landlords do not accept me to occupy their houses as a tenant just because I have a child with disabilities.

Msenga: Now as a parent, what are your challenges for having such a child with disabilities? Pamela: There are many but will mention just a few. For instance, as a young woman, some men who want to propose love, shy away when they realize I have a child with disabilities. Further, I fail to carry out personal distance business errands because I have to be there for my child all the time.

Msenga: What do you hope to see of your child?

Pamela: I still hope to see my boy to sit and stand or even walk a lone. Already, I can see some improvements as he can now respond when I call his name. I would love to see him play with other children in the neighborhood.

Msenga:What advice can you give to other parents of children with similar situation as yours?

Pamela: They should accept the challenges facing their children with disabilities, support them with affection.

Msenga: My last question is on Covid-19. How has the pandemic affected you? Pamela: I lost my good paying job because the employers could not make good business. Again, Covid-19 deterred progress in rehabilitation as centres for physiotherapy closed.

Msenga: Thank you for your time.

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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