I was on the way from the Namikango Mission to Thyolo. I got out of the truck that had given me a ride, and almost immediately a minibus stopped directly in front of me. The conductor asked where I was going. This bus was going the same direction. I was not in a hurry to jump into the bus, as I had not eaten anything since morning and it was nearly 5.00 P.M. I was really hungry, and I wanted something to eat before proceeding another 56 kilometers.
The minibus conductor needed the fare, so he pleaded for me to jump into his bus. The man even decreased the bus fare by 10%. Still I felt I should not jump into that bus. I went to a nearby grocery to get something to eat. There would be many more buses, and I was certain I would still get a lift on another bus.
I went to the shop, taking my time. Finally it was time to go outside and find a ride. A few meters from the shop another minibus drove up and stopped. A man from this bus was trying to persuade me to jump into his bus, and the conductor who had talked to me earlier came to where I was standing, and pleaded that I go on his bus. I could not believe this minibus had been waiting for me all this time. I felt that I had no option but to yield to the man who had waited for me, and even lowered his fare by 10%. As soon as I was on board the bus started off. There had only been room for one more passenger. Little did I know of the importance of what the conductor had done, or the importance of my decision to choose this particular bus out of all of those who were passing along the road that night.
After traveling for 12 kilometers, the bus stopped, and some people got off. There was someone sitting next to me who also getting off at this point, and this gave me an opportunity to be closer to a man who had been two spaces away from me. The bus started up and sped to another stopping point.
At this location, the man on my right hand got off the bus. It was only then that I realized the man was crippled. He crawled out of the bus on his hands and knees, and continued on his hands and knees into the people milling around. I watched in disbelief. In moments I knew the reason behind my entire trip was being summarized by the crawling, crippled man.
I had left my place early in the morning on the way to Namikango to collect some wheelchairs for crippled people. The wheelchairs had been handed over to me by the good graces of the Malawi Project, the Namikango Mission, and the Free Wheelchair Mission. While I was thinking of trips to villages looking for people who would benefit from these wheelchairs, just there right before my eyes someone was crawling. The message was clear.
I immediately requested that the minibus driver stop for a few more minutes, while I rushed after the crippled man. I obtained the particulars of his physical address, and contact number for his next of kin. There was little time to chat but I assured him that I was going to come and visit him in the near future. As I got back into the bus I could not help but thank the Lord whom I felt had sent His angels to persuade me to catch that particular minibus.
Three weeks later, I had managed to organize transport, and picked up a wheelchair to deliver to the crippled man, a Mr. M. Chamba. We drove right to the place he had been dropped the day I met him. I looked around, searching for him, and eventually found his wife. The poor woman did not know what it was that I had for him, but in faith they sent someone with a bicycle to fetch her husband and bring him to a shopping center. The van I had used had been parked next to a supermarket.
Mr. Chamba arrived, little suspecting who it was that wanted to see him. I reminded him where we had met, and that I had assured him I was going to visit him. He had no words and gazed in disbelief as I handed him the gift of a wheelchair from The Malawi Project.
Dr. Smith Chibaka & Richard Stephens