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Malawi 9-Year-Old Defies Disability, Inspires Community

Talandira (in white shirt) plays soccer with friends. (Lameck Masina/VOA)
Talandira (in white shirt) plays soccer with friends. (Lameck Masina/VOA)

A disabled nine-year-old boy in Malawi is showing his community that being born with physical challenges does not have to stop you from leading a full and fun life.

Talandira Kogoya was born with only one complete limb and no hands but taught himself how to play football and ride a bicycle, among other activities.

Raising Talandira was not easy, recalls his mother, Agness Kogoya.

“Some women were laughing at me when they saw us riding on the bicycle to school. They would say that they wouldn’t bother to take such a child to school every day. I would just ignore them and say to myself, ‘this is a God-given child,” Kogoya said.

Talandira jokes around with his parents. (Lameck Masina/VOA)
Talandira jokes around with his parents. (Lameck Masina/VOA)

But attitudes in the southern Malawi community where the Koyogas live changed when he proved that being disabled does not mean being helpless.

Talandira is now able to write, play soccer, and ride a bicycle.

His self-taught skills were featured in a local documentary called 'Chosen.' The film has been nominated to be submitted to Australia’s 'Focus on Ability Short Film Festival' to take place in October.

Local officials say Talandira’s story sets a great example for other disabled people and how they should be supported. Biton Mpilisi, a social welfare assistant in Phalombe District, says Talandira's case can serve as a new standard.

“We are very proud of Talandira being engaged in competition. This will assist other parents to come out and expose their (disabled) children to various social activities, that they be assisted a lot, and they can achieve what they are expecting in the future,” Mbilisi said.

Talandira’s mother is confident that the documentary about her son will do well at the festival.

"The dedication and wisdom that he has are what makes me believe that my son‘s (documentary) will win the award,” Agness Kogoya said.

As for the young student, his dreams do not stop in Australia. Talandira says he plans to fly airplanes one day.

“I want to be a pilot because they fly people to various destinations across the world. I also want to see those places.”

In the meantime, Talandira is happy piloting his bicycle around the neighborhood.