"I now feel more confident at recognising autism traits, dealing with behaviours and not blaming myself."
"This workshop has helped me to understand the broad scope of what autism is and how to help the person to fulfil their potential."
Just two of the many positive comments received following our training at Olton Baptist Church near Solihull.
Tennis coach ‘serves’ Christian charity and claims world record
Middlesex tennis coach, Danny Sitton, recently battled through exhaustion and pain to raise £2500 for Integr8 – the disability youth programme of Through the Roof, and at the same time claimed an unofficial world record for tennis coaching of 32 hours non-stop.
The event took place at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in Roehampton, who generously donated free use of a court to Danny, 35. A rising talent in wheelchair tennis, Mark McCarroll, was first on court for the 32 hour event which, at one point, seemed to be a step too far for Danny who was forced to coach players while laying flat on his back to ease the pain. “I never thought it would be physically this tough”, Danny said, “but God intervened many times and gave me the strength to get through it.” Appropriately some literature given out to those who attended included the verse: “if anyone serves he should do it with the strength God provides” (1 Peter 4:11).
Through the Roof’s Development Manager, Tim Wood, said, “Danny’s efforts have been fantastic and his sacrifice of time, energy and coaching fees will help make it possible for many more young disabled people to fulfil their God-given potential.”
It is still possible to congratulate Danny by donating securely on-line via: www.justgiving.com/dannysitton32
Ghana 2009 - the final day
Friday was a chill-out day before flying home overnight. Mid-morning, we headed off to the local market in Tema. It was a great experience, particularly seeing all the fresh food stalls. A highlight of the morning, and the trip as a whole, was when we happened to see a disabled women, who we had met on Saturday night, in the market place sitting on the floor selling yam. She had come to us when we were working alongside the street children asking us for a wheelchair, but we had none with us that evening. We had taken her measurements and said that we would put one aside for her at the end of the trip, if we had any left. When we were sorting through the wheelchairs, some of the team members had indeed put one aside for her.
Seeing her in the market, we were able to tell her this. When she heard that a wheelchair was on its way to her, she started throwing her hands in the air in celebration and thanking God. A crowd gathered to see what was going on, and some of them were also praising God. It was so exciting to see how just a small gesture from us was able to make such a big difference in her life!
Following our trip to the market, which we not so sensibly carried out during the hottest part of the day, we went back to Ellen’s house for a traditional Ghanaian meal. It was great to sample some more of the local foods – I had a lovely tomato stew, which I thoroughly enjoyed! We then said some of our goodbyes, before heading back to the hotel, where we relaxed for a bit and then freshened up before our long flight home.
Our flight left for England just before midnight. It was satisfying to leave knowing we had helped to make a positive difference in so many people’s lives. It was such a worthwhile trip which, despite it’s challenges, left the team feeling encouraged and deeply humbled. We were excited for the opportunity to be going home to share with our friends and family all we had seen and experienced. Wheels for the World is carrying out such fantastic work in so many different countries and I felt privileged to be able to be a part of it.
Ghana 2009 - Day 8
Today we got a lie in, getting up at 8:00am rather than our usual 6:00am, which was gratefully received! The morning was spent where the remaining wheelchairs were being stored. There were only a handful of wheelchairs left but our job was to sort through them and fix them up as needed. We also had a waiting list of a few people who were still yet to receive a wheelchair, so we attempted to see if any of the wheelchairs would be appropriate for them. We managed to make use of all but three of the wheelchairs (all of them specialist chairs). I then got summoned by some of the Light Outreach Team to go to the market with them. I realised when I got there that they were planning to make us all an outfit as a gift to remind us of Ghana, and they wanted me to help them pick the material. I attempted to pick out some material for each of the team members, none of it particularly subtle!
Late afternoon we were taken up to the mountains to the wood carvings market. It was our chance to be tourists! It took a while to get there, so before we knew it we had to leave, but there was just enough time to buy a few items, including for me an African drum! Fortunately we had some of the interpreters there to help us barter. It was great to see all the beautiful carvings, even if they did try to convince us that some of it was real ebony, when the black shoe polish could still be seen nearby!
Tonight we were presented with our outfits, which we wore to a meal in our hotel with all the team, including our Light Outreach colleagues and all the interpreters. It was lovely to get together and celebrate the end of a very productive and highly worthwhile trip.
Ghana 2009 - the final distribution day
We headed to Ofoase which was up towards the mountains. It was such a change in scenery - much greener than further south. After setting off at 7:00am on what we were told was to be a 2-3 hour journey, we finally arrived at 12:20pm! There was no time for lunch as we were conscious there were at least 80 people to see before sunset. We set up as quickly as we could and began work. The day was a bit of a blur to say the least! Apparently we saw 84 disabled people that afternoon. And this is proof of just how perfect God’s timing is...despite having our torches ready to carry on working after dark, the sun literally set just as the last person was being seated!
This was another day where clearly God was in control. Many people gave their lives to Christ, including several of the children who spent the majority of the day just standing at the window watching what was going on. We got back to the hotel at 10:30pm. Fortunately, we had phoned the hotel on the way back and they had agreed to leave some food out for us, as we hadn’t eaten since breakfast!
Ghana 2009 - Day 6
Today we had another fairly long journey to our distribution site, leaving again at 7:00am. We were based in a church in Asesewa. I think many of the team will agree with me that this was the most challenging day of the trip so far. I remember the awful feeling of ‘I don’t know if I can do this’ after walking in to an exceptionally hot, stuffy church following a long bumpy coach journey (I was feeling a little travel sick by this time!) and seeing almost 200 people waiting for us. Admittedly several of them were friends and relatives of the patients we were there to see, but it was still completely overwhelming, and many people were beginning to get slightly restless. One of the other team members was desperately trying not to faint in the sheer heat and humidity she found herself faced with as soon as we stepped into the building. I remember just in that moment standing there begging God to give us the strength to get through the day, knowing it was going to be one of the hardest day’s work we had ever faced. I was so grateful when two of the men stopped setting up for a minute to pray with each of us therapists, for energy and wisdom to carry out our roles effectively. It was also encouraging to know that there were people praying for us back in England.
Despite the challenges of the day, God really did give me the strength to get through. Overall, we persevered at a pace and energy I never even knew was humanly possible – we all agreed that it was only made possible in God’s strength. In total, I think we managed to see 104 patients that day. There certainly was a sense of accomplishment when we realised everyone had been seen! We arrived home just before 8:00pm - a very long day.
The day became even more special when I later heard that several people were healed that day following hearing the Gospel and receiving prayer! Many of the people who had turned up in the morning were blind and had come in hope of receiving a white stick. Some of the team had explained that unfortunately we are not able to give out white sticks, but that they could pray with them before they left. Following prayer, several of those individuals either had their sight fully or partially restored. They had come for white sticks and gone home healed – Praise God!
Ghana 2009 - Day 5
We left at 7:00am for a distribution in Winneba, just over two hours away. We were based in an open space outside the council offices. For me it turned out to be my favourite distribution of the whole trip — it had such a lovely warm village atmosphere, and everyone seemed to care so much for one another.
Once again, I saw many people crawling in on their hands and knees, and going away with a restored sense of dignity in their new wheelchairs. There were also some people who arrived in what I can only call ‘makeshift wheelchairs’ - basically plastic garden-style chairs with wheels attached! It was certainly very creative although maybe not so good in terms of comfort, posture and stability!
At the end of the day the President of the village called us together to say thank you and to pray for us. It was a really special moment. Everyone seemed so genuinely grateful and it was such a pleasure to be able to be a part of it. We arrived back at the hotel at approximately 7:00pm, after what had been a very rewarding and enjoyable day.
Ghana 2009 - Day 4
Today the team went in pairs to several different churches. This enabled the word to be spread more widely about the work of ‘Wheels for the World’. Between the whole group, we experienced a whole range of churches across many different denominations. Some were livelier than others although I think all of them shared the practice of dancing while taking up the offering! I think our church was the only church that stuck to just one offering — the others all took up two or three!
In some churches, there were other unfamiliar practices, such as men and women having to sit on separate sides of the church, regardless of whether or not they were married - I think this came as a particular shock to Caroline, who was separated from both her partner and her male interpreter! At the church Mark and I went to, the service was based around the induction of the new vicar, and appeared to overrun by an hour and a half compared to their usual length of service! Still, it was a great experience and fantastic to be able to share in worship with the local Christians...even if I couldn't tell whether the vicar’s address was in English or not (apparently it was in English but with a very strong Ghanaian accent!!).
This afternoon some of the team stayed behind at the hotel to regain their strength, whilst others took the opportunity to explore a coastal town about an hour away. One team member even managed somehow to get invited in to a baby naming ceremony!
This evening, we went out to work alongside the Light Outreach team. They have set up the equivalent of a Sunday School on a Sunday evening for the street children. It was great to see the work Ellen and the team are doing there. In total there were 108 children and young people who turned out. The younger ones met in the community centre and the older ones had chairs set up outside. Between us we taught them a few songs and they attempted to teach some to us. At the end we managed to hype them all up by setting off some rocket balloons, which they loved! Before they went home, the young people were given a slice of bread and a small water bottle about a quarter full of tea. It was humbling to see how grateful the young people were for this and to see how several of them chose not to drink it there and then, instead choosing to take it home and share it with the rest of their family.
At the end I was able to talk with several of the children, who were fascinated with my fair skin and long hair — they wouldn’t stop wrapping my hair around their fingers! When I came to leave, particularly as the rain began to fall, it suddenly hit me that they were going back to sleep on the streets, some of them as young as four or five. Some of them were asking “Can I come back to England with you?” - I felt completely helpless. At the same time though, it put a smile on my face seeing their genuine faith in God. When teaching them ‘Our God is a great big God’, we sung how God holds them in his hands—we realised how much that was true! Still, it didn’t stop a few of us shedding some tears when we got back to the hotel...