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 gave 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.