Everyday heroes.

 
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When it comes to Africa, what is often overlooked is the contribution of "everyday heroes. who range from ordinary people to leading professionals, to the lives of others.

Carlson Chiswo: Defying handicap to help others

Carlson Chiswo, 50, a Zimbabwean, was a lively outgoing fellow until disaster struck on 30 July 2011. Returning to his home city of Harare from the Zambian capital, Lusaka, the father of three children (his wife Judith is a banker) saw the front tyre of his Toyota Landcruiser D4D blow out, forcing the car to roll several times off the road. At the time, he was working on contract as general manager (operations) for the Lusaka-based Madison General Insurance Company.

He sustained what is known in medical terms as a C6/C7 spinal cord injury (SCI) that left him quadriplegic, meaning he lost the use of his legs and had only limited use of his hands. He was hospitalised for a year in Zimbabwe and South Africa and underwent several operations and rehabilitation programmes. His doctors told him he had little chance of recovery, but his faith in God has sustained him.

Today, though still in a motorised wheelchair, he can do most things for himself, including driving his modified car. He now spends time preaching the word of God and encouraging people in similar conditions not to give up.

"I had to keep the faith," he explains. "For mental rehabilitation, I started doing research in insurance and reading. I re-enrolled for an MBA, which I am still pursuing. After a year of gazing at hospital walls, there is a danger of losing your mind. I was invited to sit on the board of First Mutual Reinsurance Company and got more involved in the training and examinations activities of the Insurance Institute of Zimbabwe."

Having seen the difficulties that SCI survivors go through, Chiswo set up a Foundation in Harare to help people with a similar condition. "This was after I realised what it took to recover in terms of resources and counsel," he elucidates. "The Foundation basically mobilises resources to help SCI survivors. We currently have a support group of 63 people living with spinal cord injuries."

The Foundation's key objectives include: Total rehabilitation of persons with paraplegia and quadriplegia/ tetraplegia; and supporting SCI survivors by sourcing affordable aids, equipment, and counselling assistance so that they can regain their independence.

The Foundation also assists in accessing rehabilitation therapy in communities through...

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