Saturday, December 14, 2013

“When you focus on someone's disability you'll overlook their abilities, beauty and uniqueness. Once you learn to accept and love them for who they are, you subconsciously learn to love yourself unconditionally.” ― Yvonne Pierre

There are no ramps for wheelchairs here.  In fact, there is nothing done to assist those with physical disabilities in terms of getting around, except for a small factory in Musoma staffed by people who have disabilities, and one of they things they manufacture are custom-made, hand-cranked wheelchairs (see picture at the right, that’s my oldest son, Chris, with the camera).  These custom chairs cost over $300 and are thus out of reach of almost every single Tanzanian as this amounts to about an entire year’s wages for the average family.  This makes them more expensive than many brand new cars in America and other richer countries.  It also makes it hard for us, with our very limited budget, to help many with them.  Over the years, we have provided three to members of our churches who could meet the requirements.  In order to get one, you have to have no use of either leg and have the upper-body strength to crank yourself around.  Then we have to provide exact measurements of arm length and do a strength test.  The roads here are all dirt and poorly maintained which makes three-wheel bicycle travel a real adventure.  The rainy season makes many unusable.  However, there is in the heart of many that invincible summer that sees every blessing and never complains about the obstacles of life.  When we gave this chair to this young man, he cried.  That’s a big deal here where men are never allowed to cry except at funerals of their own children.  Then a big smile spread across his face.  “Now,” he said, “now I can help my family by going to the market for them.”  You can see in the picture that there is a rack on the back to allow carrying packages.  The very first thing he said, after suffering years with his inability to walk (could only drag himself from place to place) was that he would now be able to help others.  If only I could keep his spirit within my heart there would never be any “down” times.  The next time you start to complain about something, remember this young man who considers himself blessed by God.
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