Big Dinner: Helping amputee Suzgaka Nyirongo

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Suzgaka means “problem” and that is what his parents named him.

Suzgaka Nyirongo was born with cerebral palsy. During childhood he broke his arm which left him with a very contracted and stiff elbow and shoulder, then in early 2012 when he was working on the land a thorn penetrated his leg deeply and caused infection of the bone, which resulted in a trans-femoral amputation.

From then on he was wheelchair-bound, unable to hop with crutches because of his palsy.

By June last year the 17-year-old was very weak when he was brought in a wheelchair to the 500 Miles clinic in Mzuzu, Malawi by his brother. Staff there were concerned that he had too much to contend with to allow him to make use of a limb but decided to give him a chance and he was set some simple exercises to see if he could regain some strength. A few weeks later he returned and with the help of his brother and a lot of determination, he had done his exercises daily and could now stand and hop with the heavy use of the walking bars.

He then spent some time at the hostel beside the clinic so he could practise hopping and standing every day.

When he came back for the third time he was using one crutch to walk small, hopping steps and his brother told us they no longer used the wheelchair for short distances. The village couldn’t believe he was moving.

However, staff were still worried that Suzgaka’s jerky movements would make a prosthetic limb a tripping hazard but once he tried it on his hopping and stepping improved with a few sessions.

A prosthesis was made for him and he has gone from strength to strength through his own determination and a combination of clever physiotherapy.

His gait is not pretty due to his cerebral palsy but he can walk. While the team anticipate future adjustments to his device, he is now at home and hopes to return to farming.

How to join the Dinner

The BIG Dinner works like this: arrange to host a dinner for family or friends in your home. Eat takeaway if you don’t want to cook, or guests could bring dishes. All you need to do is pay £25 to register for the event and your guests can make a donation on the night.

Then on March 7 you all sit down to eat together, and at 7.30pm and 10.30pm, switch on your laptop or tablet to watch two online broadcasts by the charity about its work. And you can also tweet your own dinner to @thebigdinner or post photos on the Big Dinner Facebook page.

“I wanted to do something everyone could take part in rather than throwing another fundraising ball, which only reaches a certain section of society,” says Olivia. “This is more inclusive. We all need to eat, we all need to walk. By having a BIG dinner, people can help people in Africa walk again.”

• To register for The Big Dinner visit