HARARE – Chipo Samoyo, 32, grew up with fairy dreams of her own just like any other girl of her age.
Top of her priorities was to enjoy marital bliss and raise beautiful and healthy children who would take care of her in her old age.
When she gave birth to her first born child Courage Mambingadya some 14 years ago, she reckoned one of her childhood dreams had been fulfilled.
Unbeknown to her, fate had other ideas for her new born baby.
“Courage had a normal childhood like all her peers and he was a healthy and bubbly boy.
“Just like any mother, I had great hopes for him and it was my dream to see him grow to be a responsible child who would also raise a family of his own and earn respect in the community.
“As you can see from his early childhood photos, he had no deformity whatsoever. It’s very saddening that an unfortunate development dashed all my dreams,” said Chipo with despair.
When Courage was about four years old, he developed some rash that required him to be operated. Unfortunately, this was during the 2004 rampant strikes in which the local medical professionals engaged in strikes.
This sad situation resulted in him being attended to by junior doctors at one of the local hospitals in Harare. Because of that anomaly, he didn’t get the best of attention leading to an irreversible paralysis which has all but confined his entire life to bed.
“It was just a normal sickness which never raised any alarm and, as responsible parents, we had to take him to hospital. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the best of attention because professional doctors and nurses were on strike and only the juniors were available.
“Instead of his situation getting better, it actually deteriorated, but we were encouraged by the promises which were given that he would get better. Unfortunately, this never changed and even after taking him for rehabilitation, we could not make his situation better”.
Courage never grew out of his paralysis and he paints a painful picture of the promising boy that he was some ten years ago.
His ribs are curving in and have given him a permanently bended posture. He cannot walk, he cannot speak, cannot sit properly and his hands and legs are deformed and not developed enough for a person of his age. Feeding him is a nightmare because he cannot chew and can only take foods that are easy to swallow.
While Chipo is trying hard to present a brave face, one can tell the agony that she feels. “My situation is difficult but I have to accept what life has given me. It’s even unfortunate that my child’s situation has brought me more ridicule and despise than pity from the public. We cannot stay at one place for more than 3 month because once the landlord realises we have a paralysed child we are given notice.
“That notwithstanding, we also have to deal with other needs for this child given the specific food requirements for him. We also need as much linen and blankets because the child always wets and soils himself. Unfortunately, the water problems make our situation worse.”
Courage’s father, Jeremiah Mambingadya, 37, has not taken the sad development lightly and has since become a victim of feats which medical professionals attributed to be stress related to his child’s state.
“I used to work for my family but Courage’s sickness really came hard on me. I never imagined him in this state and being a father, it has really destroyed my spirit.
“All the little that I get from my part time work as a tout and the mother’s contributions from hair braiding business is easily eroded in our efforts to provide for Courage and this has made it difficult to take care other siblings. We just have to watch him lying all day and we have resigned to fate “Takungosiira Mwari”.
The family was however, relieved when they were presented with a state of the art wheel chair courtesy of the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society Humanitarian Ambassador Alick Macheso.
Courage’s mother could not hide her relief after receiving the donation. “This is a God-inspired intervention and I don’t know how to thank Ambassador Macheso and the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society for support. They have lessened my burden and as you can see Courage, is happy to be in this wheel chair.
“Now I can also take him to church and I hope the Red Cross and other partners will not forget me after this effort”.
Ambassador Macheso, as the veteran musician is now known after being bestowed the status by Zimbabwe Red Cross Society also took the opportunity to encourage Zimbabweans to help each other. “This family approached me through a family member when they heard of my new role with Red Cross. I then worked with the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society to secure a wheel chair for the child and we hope to continue helping them in many ways,” said Macheso who was accompanied by the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society Secretary General Maxwell Phiri.
The Mambingadya family also pointed out that they were given a stand by the Chitungwiza Municipality when they presented their situation but they would still need to pay $1 000, which they don’t have.
“We were given a stand but we do not have the money required to pay for it and it’s also unfortunate that the stands are still to be serviced otherwise we would be happy to move into a home of our own and possibly drill a borehole to deal with the water woes we are facing right now. The discrimination is too much and we are now tired of moving from home to home”.
The family called on well-wishers to come to their aid. “This is not something you can live with under normal circumstances but we believe there is a reason for everything and we are calling on all Zimbabweans to support us in whatever way they can