Craig Hospital welcomed Malebogo Molefhe from Botswana for a tour on Tuesday, April 4, 2017, as part of an international visit related to her acceptance of the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage Award (IWOC), in D.C., on April 2nd.
Malebogo has dedicated her life to teaching young girls to stand up to harmful gender stereotypes and domestic abuse. A former national basketball player for Botswana, Malebago was brutally assaulted and shot eight times by an ex-boyfriend and was paralyzed. She was awarded the IWOC, along with 12 other women from around the world, for demonstrating “exceptional courage, strength, and leadership in acting to improve others’ lives.”
“The rate of gender based violence is just too much. We continue to lose girls every day. It’s very important for me to speak out and raise awareness and teach and educate young girls the importance of good relations,” Malebago said.
Malebago toured the hospital and met with patients. During the tour she broke down in tears. “I’m trying to compare with where I come from with the kind of therapy offered. Here I’ve seen one of the best hospitals with state of the art equipment. I was kind of really, really emotional. It’s really incredible. I think the work that is being done here is amazing. It gives people the true sense of a second chance because with that kind of equipment,” she said.
During the visit, Craig staff noticed Malebago's wheelchair wasn't properly fitted for her. The hospital donated a new wheelchair to her and included a custom fitting in Craig's Wheelchair Clinic.
"It’s overwhelming. I’m just very happy. I needed this comfort," said Malebago.
"[My old chair], it’s old and heavy, an this one is new and lighter and more beautiful. I feel really comfortable which is the best thing. Also for my back, I feel quite rested," she said.
Malebago said she would love to see the opportunities available to Craig patients in her own country and she hopes to take some ideas home. During her time in the U.S. she also met with domestic abuse survivors and shared her message with others.
Malebago’s visit was also the first time she had ever seen snow. “That was just beautiful. I am so impressed. It was the first time to see it. I wish I could carry it with me. I love being here and the people are very kind. I’m really, really grateful for the opportunity,” she said.