By Dr. Stella Kasirye
Malawi Country Team Leader: Peachtree Tubepoka Malawi Legacies
Wezi Phiri breaks out into a song of praise and gratitude, “Jalawe lange ndi Yesu,” meaning Jesus is my rock. His mother who is also his Sunday school teacher, joins him and they flit back and forth across the stage of Chitipa Africa International Church. The reason for their joy is that Wezi has just received a hand pedalled trike from His wheels International. . . .His mobility challenges due to a disability in his legs will be reduced. The function is a celebration of what God has done through the partnership between Peachtree Presbyterian Church and the Tubepoka Churches Network in Chitipa, Township Zone. As mother and son break into song, they are joined by church leaders and Sunday school teachers. The church breaks out into praise and applause, everyone is excited for Wezi.
Wezi is 15-years-old, in form 2 at Wenya Secondary school, and a student on a Peachtree scholarship program. He was born with poorly developed legs and is being raised by his single mother, Walinase Kaonga, a very faithful Sunday school teacher at Vumo Church of Central Africa, in Nthalire Zone. Walinase’s Sunday school class has 63 (33 boys and 30 girls) children. . . .
Wezi’s ambition is to become a lawyer who administers justice on behalf of the marginalised with
fairness. He does not want to be a corrupt lawyer like those who judge wrongly because they have been bribed. Wezi’s role model is lawyer, Isaac Mtambo. He hails from the same home area as Wezi and has had a personal encounter with him on one occasion. Asked why Wezi admires him, he respond without missing a beat, “Isaac Mtambo is kind and has good character. He helps the poor and elderly in our community and supports church projects. He inspires me and I want to be a lawyer like him.”
I first met Wezi about two years ago at the Nthalire Zonal meeting. He was part of the AWANA children’s scripture memory competition. His group had the meeting spell bound because they would break out into enthusiastic scripture songs after each scripture memory recitation. They won most of the prizes that year. Wezi loves Sunday school and his mother and Sunday school teacher encourages him to commit scripture to memory in song. Whenever he is asked to recite a memory verse, he recites it and then breaks into a song from the same scripture. Wezi does not let his disability prevent him from enjoying a full productive life. He always makes the 20 kilometre journey every quarter to attend the zonal meeting.
Up until recently, Wezi was walking approximately 12 km to get to and from school daily. When he passed his Primary leaving examinations he was selected to Kapirinkhonde Community Day Secondary school, 6 kilometres from Wezi’s home. With no boarding facilities at the school, Wezi had to make the journey on foot daily. Peachtree has managed to get him transferred to Wenya secondary school with boarding facilities and so he will not have to make the daily long journey. His trike will make the movement between dormitory and classes and class transitions faster so he does not miss any of his classes.
There are other children like Wezi in the Chitipa District, our hope is that the partnership with His Wheels International will grow so others can have the same opportunity Wezi has had. Even better we hope that in the future, the students on the Peachtree Technical College Scholarship will be able to manufacture the Trikes in country as a social enterprise project that would help fund the programs related to children with disabilities. Thank you His wheels International and Peachtree Presbyterian Church for your partnership in the gospel.