Living to Fight Another Day
Dorothy grew up knowing that her elder sister could not do everything on her own – she needed a helping hand. That is what Dorothy has been for most of her life; making the necessary sacrifices to make sure that her sister, as well as her family, lived a blissful life. It is no surprise that later on Dorothy joined a movement that helps people with disabilities and with the money she earns, Dorothy not only personally helps others with disabilities, her sister and the group offer aid to people living with disability in the larger context.
Dorothy dropped out of school at a very young age and began taking small jobs to earn money to contribute to her family’s needs. Dorothy’s sister was born with a paralysis of the arm which later spread to her leg. It has always been a shared responsibility to take care of her elder sister.
When Dorothy got married, she wed a man who developed mental challenges from the early stages of their marriage. In 2008, Dorothy’s husband deserted her and it became a huge challenge for the woman to care for her 5 children alone. In the years that Dorothy had to fend for herself, she joined Umoja. Now she makes a living that supports herself and her children, pays for their education, buys their clothes and puts food on the table.
Dorothy is currently a small-scale farmer of maize, beans, potatoes, and peas. Every coin that she has, emerges from the work that she participates in as a member of Umoja. She lives a fulfilled life knowing that with each card, letter, and soap sold, there is a 10 percent that is used to help other people with disabilities in their community. She not only transforms her own life, she transforms the lives of others too. Dorothy belongs to a community of integration and change that is initiated by both refugees and Malawians. She lives in a reality where refugees are contributing to the welfare of their hosts and the economy that circulates around them and Malawi.
Dorothy testifies that Umoja has brought change into many lives. Umoja turned a situation where there was no hope of help in the midst of people with disabilities, to a reality where they can be the ones offering the help. Umoja is giving hope to others and giving them a reason to fight another day like it has done for Dorothy.
Dorothy lives happily knowing that she is blessed to be part of something greater than nationality, tribe and physical human abilities.
In the picture above, Dorothy (left) poses with some of the members of Umoja.