Defying disability with hard work

Kennedy George is not an ordinary man. His legs are shrivelled and he relies on his hands to move around but that hasn’t stopped him from believing in himself.

From Beni Village in Malawi’s commercial city, Blantyre, George embraces life with enthusiasm. He has to crawl from one place to another and in this October heat, one can imagine how frustrating this can be. Yet, George, 52, does not mind the cruel weather to crawl on the hot sand to his workplace.

He moulds bricks and erect kilns in his backyard. He carries out tough jobs that even some able-bodied people would struggle to do.

“The hot sand burns my knees as I crawl while doing my work,” he said. “But I ignore the pain to accomplish my duty of making ends meet for my family.”

With his hands, he drags himself up the ladder to lay the moulded bricks on the kiln.

Afterwards, he goes into the blue-gum ‘forest’ he planted around his house to cut logs for baking the bricks. His three sons and a daughter help him in the afternoon after school.

George started his brick-making business in 2001 and he has now become one of the ‘rich’ people in his village.

Through this business, George has bought a vehicle, a Nissan Datsun, which he uses to transport rice farmers along the Shire Valley in Chikhwawa, built a house and is able to pay fees for his three secondary school children.

“It is written in the Bible that everyone shall eat through their sweat. So, disability should not be an excuse for people not to work,” he says.

The second born in a family of three says his late father, who died few years ago, instilled in him a spirit of hard-work when he was a child.

“My father encouraged me to carry a hoe on my back and work on our farm land along with my siblings. At first,

“I felt as if he was a bad parent [for making] me work like that in my condition. But as I grew up, I realised that he was training me to be hard-working and self-reliant,” says George. 

Nevertheless, it was his late uncle who gave him a small capital for the brick-making business, which has now become more lucrative due to the numerous housing projects taking shape along the Chikhwawa Road.

He started his business with a capital of about K10 000 but, today, he makes about K100 000 per month from the brick and transport businesses. His intention is to buy another car next year.

Although some time back his business almost flopped due to the deteriorating price of bricks that resulted from the rising competition in the trade, George struggled on his own to revamp his business.

“I could not go to my relatives because they also have own families to look after. I vowed to myself that I will never beg in my life because God created me for a purpose,” says George.

He says all disabled people in the country should believe in themselves and know that they can succeed in the fields that are considered tough even by able-bodied people.

“If you say within yourself that you cannot afford to do a certain job and push it to someone else, just know that you are donating your blessings to that person. Everybody should work hard to realise his or her dream. That way, we will walk out of poverty,” he argues.

He adds that most disabled people in the country are ridiculed as useless citizens because they have turned themselves into beggars.

George’s life has proven that with determination and resilience, anyone can achieve their goals and contribute to the country’s development.

The passing of the Disability Bill by Parliament this year, which aims at respecting rights of the disabled, can be meaningless if they continue to look down upon themselves as failures, as George believes.

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