By Mashonaland East Correspondent
Murewa: An 11-year-old Murewa girl, Portia Kasuso, who was born with a disability and left in the care of her father at the age of three years after her mother deserted her, is now attending both school and church for the first time in her life following the donation by a well-wisher.
The donated hand-propelled wheelchair, valued at US$240, was sourced by Raphel Bareyi, a member of the Harare Inner City United Methodist Church.
“I could only crawl around our yard until I received a wheelchair donation from Mr. Bareyi. Now, I ride,” Portia, from Chemapango Village, said recently at a United Methodist Church convention in Murewa.
Portia said in the past, she could not attend school because of the distance between the school and her home until Bareyi came to her aid and donated the wheelchair.
“Portia really touched my heart when we visited her and I felt the urge to do something about it,” Bareyi said.
According to Portia’s father, Somia Kasuso, she was born with a disability in her lower limbs and lived with both parents until her mother abandoned her when she was only three years old.
“In our African culture, people attach stigma to children born with a disability and I think that is what drove my wife away. She left me to look after my daughter. But, I accepted her (Portia) as a gift from God and I believe she is just like every child,” Kasuso said.
For the next three years, Kasuso doubled as father and mother until he remarried.
“Daily, I would feed, bath and dress my child until I remarried,” he said adding his new wife, Chioneso Gazhawa, stepped in to help and worked to get Portia a birth certificate.
“I have come to accept Portia just like every other child and I have committed myself to give her the same love I give my own three children,” Gazhawa said, adding, Portia demonstrated high intellectual and physical abilities despite of her condition.
“She now can count, sweep her room, recall and sing songs from her first church service. She needs some support to go to a school for the physically challenged,” the mother said.
Despite the care that Portia is getting from her family, she said she was still living in isolation from other children of her age.
“No one comes to play with me, but I will look for them riding my wheelchair,” she said.
The well-wisher, Bareyi, said he was moved by the plight of Portia and decided to do something for her.
“I was deeply moved by the plight of this young girl and told myself that something must be done. The wheelchair is only the beginning. Portia must go to school like other children. May we call for individuals, the church and those with a heart for mission to bless her with the best education,” he said.