A Friday Story from Zimbabwe

Mrs. Gonamombe lives a hardscrabble existence with her four sons in Rutenga village, Zimbabwe.

The three oldest—Namo (25), Rapson (22), and Richard (20)—were born with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, a hereditary condition that has damaged the nerves in their arms and legs.

Unable to walk, they were forced to crawl on the ground because their widowed mother couldn’t afford to buy them any mobility aids.

Special thanks to ZBC News and the Rotary Club of Harare Central for this video.

Television viewers in Zimbabwe were “shocked and saddened” when their story aired on ZBC News.

Among them were members of the Rotary Club of Harare Central, a distribution partner of Free Wheelchair Mission, who immediately jumped into action to help.

Through their network, they located the family by contacting the reporter and quickly made arrangements to deliver wheelchairs and other essential supplies.

Wheelchairs being distributed in Rutenga, Zimbabwe.

A team of Rotarians made the grueling, 250-mile drive to Rutenga. “What we saw at the Gonamombe homestead was simply tear-jerking,” said Tember B., the wheelchair program coordinator for the Rotary Club of Harare. 

The team took the Gonamombes’ measurements, then assembled and fitted new GEN_3 wheelchairs to each of the three sons. They also provided the family with groceries, clothes, and towels.

Zimbabwe on a map of Africa, Europe, and Asia.

Mrs. Gonamombe was overcome with emotion when she saw her sons lifted into new wheelchairs for the first time.

“Thank you so much for answering my desperate call for help,” she said through tears of joy. “I am not getting any younger and my sons are now grown men, so it’s not easy to carry them around. May the Dear Lord bless you in all your endeavors.”

A widow, tearful at the generosity shown to her family in Zimbabwe.

“Hopefully the plight of this family is a wake-up call that will help us reach out to those less fortunate than ourselves,” reflects Tember. “After all, it takes an entire village to raise a child.”

Indeed, it takes an entire network of individuals, united in heart and purpose, to get people like the Gonamombes the help they need—and it starts with the generosity of friends like you.

With your support, Free Wheelchair Mission is able to send containers of new wheelchairs and medical supplies to distribution partners like the Rotary Club of Harare, who then deliver and fit them to those in need in their communities.

The Gonamombes’ story reminds us that “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27 NIV).

There are still an estimated 75 million individuals worldwide who need wheelchairs, and together, we can make a difference in their lives.

Thank you for all you do to help give the life-transforming gift of mobility.