Susan Banda got a surprise Christmas present yesterday from Pat and Tony from Surrey, friends of 500 miles.
She is a typical Malawi young woman. She studies hard, helps run the family home on the shores of Lake Malawi, and has ambitions to be a nurse when she leaves school in two years time.
And when her chores are done she likes nothing more than a game of netball on the beach.
But six years ago teenager Susan could not walk. She was born with deformed legs and had to crawl along the ground. Her future looked grim in a country where the health service struggles to provide even the most basic care.
Now thanks to 500 miles, the lively 18 year-old is just like any other Malawi teenager.
“500 miles changed my life. Before my legs, I used to have to crawl on the ground. Now I can do anything – even walk long distances,”
Susan’s father abandoned her and her mother soon after she was born, because he would not accept her disability.
And when Susan’s mother remarried, her new stepfather also rejected her, leaving her in the care of her disabled grandmother.
Luckily for Susan she met pastor Sydney Kansengwa and his wife Gertrude when she was eleven. They were so impressed by her lively spirit and immense courage they adopted her.
In 2008 Susan’s deformed legs were amputated, and the three years later she got two prostheses from the new 500 miles clinic in Lilongwe.
Since then she has had three replacement limbs because she is so active she wears them out.
Susan says, “There are little ones with disabilities who cannot manage to go to school. When I am a nurse after I leave school I want to give hope to those children, to show them people with disabilities can have a job too.”
“But without 500 miles I could not have gone to school. My life would have been very difficult.”
If you would like to help someone like Susan stand tall to walk, then host a BIG dinner. While you are having fun with your friends and family, you will raise money to support 500 miles and its work.
If you haven’t yet registered to host a BIG dinner for 500 miles, please have a look at www.bigdinner.co.uk