Handless Kandeu’s unmatched passion for work

FACING THE PRESS—Peter spells out his vision to journalists

By Gospel Mwalwanda:

Retiree Holystar Phiri was dumbfounded when he saw the young man dig earth with great dexterity, using a hoe.

Phiri, 65, stood motionless for a while as the youthful electrician he had engaged to do some work focused on the job.


“As he organised his equipment, he told me not to feel sorry for him but to see him like any able-bodied person,” the retired secondary school teacher recalled in a telephone interview.

Phiri thought his eyes were deceiving him when he saw how the youth held his electrical tools with his arms and deftly worked effortlessly.

It is one thing when you have both hands and are able to do a job that requires the use of both limbs, and quite something else to be able to do the same job minus both hands.


When some people with disability delight in being pitied and rely on alms, Peter Kandeu is an exception— he does not consider himself physically challenged.

The last thing the 22-year-old resident of Chirimba Township in Blantyre City wants is to be pitied.

“What I don’t want is seeing people feeling sorry for me because of the way I am,” Peter said while installing electric cables and fixing an electrical problem at his house.

He said the fact that he was born without hands did not deter him from living a normal life while growing up. He did household chores along with his siblings.

“I faced a lot of challenges when I was growing up but I accepted my disability and refused to be weighed down by it,” Peter, the second born in a family of five children said.

Peter may have been born without hands but, judging from the way he was going about his work with practiced speed at Phiri’s home, he is as good at his job as any other electrician.

He said it was unfortunate that when people realise that he has a disability, they instantly conclude that he cannot perform any job.

“Growing up, my dream was to have a skill that would enable me to live independently and confound those who doubt my capability as well as those who look down on me,” Peter said.

Born on July 1 1999, Peter’s deformity surprised but did not disappoint his parents, who considered it as God’s wish.

“We were surprised that he had no hands but we weren’t disappointed at all as we knew that God had decided that he should be born that way,” said Jimmy Kandeu, Peter’s father.

Kandeu said his son started expressing his dislike for being pitied at a tender age, such that family members had no choice but to involve him in daily activities.

“Peter hated being idle and watching his siblings perform household chores. He would complain that we were sidelining him and, yet, the truth is that we were just feeling sorry for him,” he said.

“He would perform tasks in the home that required the use of hands such as mopping the floor and would do them perfectly. When I wanted to send someone to run an errand, he would volunteer to do it,” he added.

Kandeu said when his son pays them a visit in Kamoto Village around Neno Boma, he participates in hoeing in the family maize garden and also assists with cooking.

“He single handedly molded bricks for his house, which I built. When it comes to work, he is as good as anyone. He is just an amazing child,” Kandeu said.

The odds have always been stacked against Peter because of his disability and, not surprisingly, he encountered many challenges while growing up.

Some government primary schools, for instance, were reluctant to enroll him because of his disability. To make matters worse, some of his peers at school isolated him on the basis of his disability.

But his father urged him on and, with great difficulty, provided the material and moral support his son needed to continue learning.

“When he was in standard eight, he told me he wanted to continue learning but was finding it hard as he was feeling a lot of pain in his arm, which he used for support when writing,” Kandeu said.

Peter said he went as far as form three and then asked his father to source money so that he could go for training at a technical institution to achieve his ambition of becoming an electrician.

As luck would have it, it was during this time that a non-State actor came along and offered to sponsor Peter at Sanwecka Training Centre, a Blantyre-based institution that offers technical courses.

This is one of the 60 informal training institutions approved by the Technical, Entrepreneurial and Vocational Education and Training (Tevet) Authority.

Teveta is a regulatory body established with the mandate to regulate, promote and facilitate sustainable provision of quality technical, entrepreneurial and vocational education and training.

Peter said Sanwecka at first doubted if he would successfully complete his five-week electronics and electrical installation course because of his disability.

But he would prove them wrong as he not only finished successfully, but also came top in his class.

“On July 19 2021, we welcomed a student named Peter Saube Kandeu, who was here to study electrical installation,” Ishmael Amidu, Sanwecka Training Centre Coordinator said.

Amidu said he kept wondering from the day Peter was registered how he would manage the course without hands. He had no idea a determined Peter would put up a splendid performance.

“There were 20 students in class and, surprisingly, he was our best student. He is a hard worker and knows his job,” Amidu said.

Amidu said Peter could do piping, wiring, fault finding and also maintain home gadgets such as iron and hot plates, among other jobs requiring his skill.

The government attaches great importance to technical institutions, whether privately-run or government-owned, realising that no country can develop without people with technical skills.

And it is the wish of the government that everyone, including those who are disadvantaged such as people with disability, have unobstructed access to vocational training.

“What is contained in the Malawi 2063 vision and MIP 1 documents will not be achieved if Malawi does not have people with technical skills,” Elwin Sichiola, Teveta Executive Director said.

The Malawi 2063 is an official document and road map by the Malawi Government that details how Malawi will become self-reliant with a minimum per capita income of $4,000 by 2063.

Sichiola said in an interview that “sometimes, you hear that jobs are there, but companies are employing expatriates. This happens when a country does not have skilled people,” he said.

When people with disability apply during Teveta recruitment for technical colleges, all they need to have is a Malawi School Certificate of Education certificate. They are automatically picked, regardless of the strength of their certificate.

And that is how, for people like Peter, the road to success is paved.

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