Thursday, September 25, 2014

I though I had better put a little more of what we were usually doing, lest you should think we were always on safari.  We are the anchor couple for this corner of the mission, so whenever there is a project going on we are pretty much involved.  During the last couple of months we have had two major projects, the wheelchair distribution and the mosquito net distribution.

The wheelchair project is administered by Mobility, an NGO which works with disabled transport in several countries in southwest Africa.  As with many of the church's projects, we work with established vendors who have more permanent contact with the native people.  We furnish the chairs, and they furnish the expertise in fitting, training, and follow-up so that the chairs serve long and well.

It was very interesting to be involved.  We were asked if they could use our church facilities for the project, and fortunately, it was on a week when we had few district activities, so they were able to set up working areas, training areas, feeding facilities, and outside practice areas for the entire week.

When we first agreed to help, I was thinking that we would have a large number of people involved, but the primary purpose for this project was to distribute a smaller number of wheelchairs, and while doing so, to train multiple technicians on assembly, fitting, and maintenance of the chairs.
This is the afternoon group at the end of one day, with the trainers and missionaries on the back row, the technicians and administrators in the next couple of rows, the recipients in their new chairs towards the front, and the assemblers/techs sitting down.  They were able to do two such groups each day, and it was marvelous to see the light of hope in the eyes of those who got chairs.  Some had been waiting for many months on the list, and the chance to work again or attend school was something they had dreamed of.

We also invited the administrators from several organization who will assist with continuing distribution efforts so that they would see and understand our needs regarding reporting, tracking, and follow-up for the chairs.

We helped with logistics, keeping the building clean, and I even got to take a spin in one of the hand-cranked front-wheel drive setups, which was fun.  I had never thought about training for the user, but they need to be able to maneuver their chair up and down stairs and ramps, across grass and gravel, up and down inclined areas and in rough areas (which is most of the time).  The hand-cranked version is an attachment to a regular three-wheel chair, and can be attached and removed by the user without assistance.  We furnish that type of chair to those who have far to travel to work or school, and you will see a good number of them out on the roads in Blantyre.

All in all it was a rewarding week, although it took most of my time.  Even Sister Reynolds got involved because some of the seat cushion covers had not been finished properly, so we took them home to our sewing machine and she did some repair work.  Getting a replacement cushion cover might take several months in Africa, so her repair efforts were especially timely.

1 comment:

  1. Hi

    I am an Editor for the Area website Part of my task is to collect faith-promoting stories from members in the Area for the website. Would you please email me at ? I would appreciate that as I would like to ask for your assistance.

    Thank you

    Collette Burgoyne