The Girl with Special Shoes
Miracles Don’t Always Look Like You’d Expect
Hilda’s family didn’t know she had muscular dystrophy. They just knew their preschooler was losing her ability to walk. But they were determined to find a cure. The Girl with Special Shoes is the witty and heartfelt story of a family’s sacrificial love and a God who refashions pain into purpose.
Hilda’s family didn’t know she had muscular dystrophy. They just knew their preschooler was losing her ability to walk. But they were determined to find a cure.
Being disabled in Cameroon meant not only obstacles to transport, but visits to diviners and evangelists, threats of sexual assault, discrimination, and a crisis of faith. Despite the hardship Hilda has faced, her family’s unwavering support and God’s unwavering grace have helped her persevere to become a national broadcaster. Her inspiring triumph over adversity will give you hope, no matter how dark your trials.
Walk a mile in Hilda’s shoes and learn how:
- She lost her mobility and found her purpose.
- A gutsy girl broke the glass ceiling of disability.
- People saw her broken body, but God saw a worthy vessel.
- She and her family searched for healing, but God had other plans.
- She didn’t need to stand to be outstanding.
- God was on the move when she was stuck.
- Her hope overcame hardship.
The Girl with Special Shoes is the witty and heartfelt story of a family’s sacrificial love and a God who refashions pain into purpose.
Hilda Bih Muluh is the first person with a disability to become a national radio journalist and news anchor on Cameroon Radio Television. Her journey with muscular dystrophy and passion for disability activism have been featured on NPR, The Washington Post, and the Voice of America. She is a recipient of Barack Obama’s Washington Mandela Fellowship, and has spoken at The Speak Foundation Conference (Atlanta, GA), the Young African Leaders Initiative leadership conference (Accra), and the AWLADNA Festival in Cairo.
Joni Eareckson Tada writes that Hilda’s memoir, The Girl with Special Shoes, “is ready to pick up where the Joni book left off, refreshing the hearts of a whole new generation of readers who long to understand God’s purposes in suffering.”
There are few people in this world that leave me speechless. The life Hilda has led as an individual living with muscular dystrophy in the midst of few accommodations is incredible. Her resilience to move beyond hurdles is a testimony to her remarkable strength in the Lord, a testimony I hope many will read. I am so proud to recommend this book. —Kathryn Bryant Knudson, CEO of The Speak Foundation
Hilda’s story is a gut-wrenching raw account of life with a disability in Africa. But more than that, it is a moving account of God’s ability to transform lives. This is not a “tragedy to triumph” story, claiming that God will change your circumstances if you ask enough. It is a story of how God transforms a surrendered heart. Life with a disability is hard on so many levels, but Hilda’s story also demonstrates the power of love and the aching beauty of trust. We need more vulnerable stories like these, to show us as a society how far we still have to go in affirming and valuing the Imago Dei in every human being. Allow the Spirit of God to speak to you and move you to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. —Kim Kargbo, Founder & CEO of Accessible Hope International
Hilda’s incredible prose brings us up close and personal to the struggles, mistreatment, and redemption that children living with disabilities face every day. Her experience embodies the plight of millions globally who are left behind by the world. I hope you pick up the book and recommit your life to being a blessing to children and young adults just like Hilda. —Justin Narducci, CEO of CURE International Children’s Hospitals
This is not an ordinary inspirational story. This book will change you from the inside. Hilda’s is an empowering journey from relative poverty and self-pity to achieving goals against all odds. It’s not about the fact that her body is impaired, it’s not about pity or sympathy. This book shows disability is not inability. —Anne Wafula Strike, Ambassador for ADD International (Action on Disability and Development), Patron for Able Child Africa
I laughed, I cried, I smiled, I felt like hugging Hilda for her bravery. I have never read a book that paints a picture of childhood in Cameroon so well, not to mention a child with an impairment struggling to cope, fall, and rise over and over again. Her inspiring journey has motivated my faith in God; it has stimulated a passion to do more for children with impairment in Cameroon who just want to live like other children. I want everybody to read it! —Agho T. Glory, Empowerment and Disability Inclusive Development (EDID) Program of Cameroon Baptist Convention Health Services
Hilda’s story transports us to the streets and into the homes and families of Cameroon. Trapped in a body of pain and disabling weakness from a young age, Hilda is driven to prove wrong those who dismiss her as worthless. Her confessions, unimaginable struggles, and bouts with hopelessness will echo in the hearts of many. But what if the faith that finds her could find you? If anyone has ever dismissed you as worthless, if life’s struggles seem overwhelming, if the future is dark and unknown, you will find someone who shares your tears and inspires your hope. —Rev Christina L. Young, ELCA Pastor of “Fresh Bread” faith gathering, USA
The Girl with Special Shoes tells the story of her struggle with muscular dystrophy such that you don’t have to be suffering from any physical ailment to relate to it. Her resilience as she wrestles with existential issues provides guideposts for all travellers on the road of life. If you ever wonder anything about life’s purpose, meaning, hope, and where God is in the midst of it all, this book is for you. —Delphine M. Fanfon, Vision Bearer of Me4real International, Cameroon
In a society where the disabled were considered cursed and a bad omen, Hilda was shunned, denied her rights, and constantly faced stumbling blocks. But no matter what, Hilda’s tricycle went on, clinking and clanking forward toward her destiny. She shook the village, the city, and the nation, to become a symbol of pride and a trailblazer for many in Africa. The more you read the book, the more you grasp that disability was not the enemy, but society’s bias and ignorance. We can’t afford to lose the potential of people who are disabled in body. The book is a testament of the power of a disabled body with a determined soul. —Dr Segid Teklehaimanot, Psychiatrist trained at Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia
You will suffer vicariously as Hilda retells moments of being neglected, cheated, abused, and forgotten. You will cling to hope with her as the unconditional love of her father consistently lifts her. It is fitting that God uses a lame child as a reminder to endure even the longest of journeys. My heart has been filled with gratitude and pointed to the day when there is no need for special shoes. —Brandon Smith, Student Pastor at The Well Community Church, USA
In breathtaking, authentic, and poignant moments, Hilda paints the battle between moving on and giving up, hope and hopelessness. God does not waste our pain. Hilda’s special shoes are too big for me to wear, but they leave indelible prints and speak volumes throughout this side of eternity. —Rev Joel Ngoh, Former Lead Pastor at Hope Baptist Church, Bamenda, and Mildred Tsangue, Therapist
Hilda’s book is such an honest lament of what it is like to be disabled in a country where there is little help for the disabled. Worse, many people think disabilities are of the devil and avoid people with any kind of impairment. Her strong faith and true grit kept her going when most of us would have given up early on. I admire her. Even sitting in a wheelchair, she had complete control of a room full of children by her mere speaking than I ever had with full capabilities. —Sara Tanner, Founder of Supporting Native African Pastors
I felt as though I accompanied Hilda through the highs and lows, through the support of family to deception, from special shoes to scary treatments by the witch doctor. Her book moved me to tears and left me wanting to hear more as God writes the rest of this amazing woman’s story. —Jane Schmitz, veteran missionary in Africa, Association of Baptists for World Evangelism
Despite the many difficulties Hilda experienced, she overcame them with the strength of will, the support of her family, and the help of her friends. We in Egypt are so proud of her as a writer and artist who represents her country all over the world, especially in Africa. —Dr Nadia Elarabi, Executive Director of Alfan Alkhas Association in Egypt and Art Therapist
Get a preview of "The Girl with Special Shoes" here
"Leaning into Weakness" - Hilda shares on being strong even in our weakness
"Trusting God through Suffering" - blog based on Hilda's book
Watch and read about Hilda and her passion for disability activism:
Hilda on Voice of America
Hilda featured in the Washington Post
Sign up for The Girl With Special Shoes devotional here