Maige Jumola is a 14-year-old crippled boy who lives in
Mwanhuzi Parish in Shinyanga Diocese, Tanzania. His legs are shriveled to the
size of short broomsticks. He propels himself by his hands sliding along on his
knees. I met him for the first time during Holy Week three years ago. He never
misses the Sunday Eucharist and special feast days. He "crawls" the one mile
from his poor hut in the village to the church.
I try to spend time with Maige especially on Easter Sunday
when his smile is brighter than usual. He joins the choir in having a soda after
the Eucharistic Celebration. He is not a Christian but enjoys reading about
religion. I give him some simple books in Swahili on the Catholic faith.
This year I decided to buy Maige a tricycle. It has
regular-size bike tires. The pedals are up front and are propelled by your
hands. When the parish priest and I brought the tricycle on the back of our
pick-up truck everyone in the village turned out for the big event. When Maige
tried it for the first time a big cheer came from the crowd. Tears of joy
streamed down his cheeks as he pedaled by himself. Spontaneous clapping followed
him along the road.