Celebration of Accessible Bibles!
Linking with the 400th Anniversary of the King James Bible and the Biblefresh initiative, Torch Trust is planning a Celebration of Accessible Bibles at St Martin-in-the-Fields on the morning of Saturday 22nd October. The event is free – but it is a ticketed event and Premier are helping with that.
Book your tickets at www.premier.org.uk/biblecelebration
A great garden party
Thank you to everyone who took part, worked hard and/or attended the Ashtead garden party for Wheels in August. Tea, cake and scones were eaten, and cosmetics, jewellery and scarves were sold. The event has raised over £540 for Wheels' work, and was a great afternoon for everyone involved.
Stephi's blog - the final two days in Nakuru
Today was a really quiet day in comparison to the last few. We were expecting a bus load of people to come but after about 3 hours we heard that they were stuck because of police road checks. We think they will come tomorrow. However we had a chance to see others who weren't registered but had come hoping we could help.
I saw a 25 year old lady called Janet and I fitted her with single crutch which is what she needed. It will now be much easier for her to walk.
Then I helped Bernard who was 16 and went to school. He hadn't walked since he as born so he was fitted with self-propelling wheelchair and I fitted the pelvic strap to the wheelchair for him to stop him slipping forward.
A lady called Suzanna arrived shuffling, bent right over - she had had Polio when she was younger so she was fitted with a self-propelling wheelchair and was so happy. Suzanna's friend Agnes also badly needed a chair as she had also arrived crawling on the ground. She got a great wheelchair too and we gave them necklaces and bracelets. With the help of a local Kenyan to translate they explained they had recently left Tanzania because there was no food and had travelled 1000km to Nakuru by bus, boat and crawling. Some people's stories are amazing.
I fitted 2 men with crutches, both were called Joseph and both were really happy.
There was a man who had come every day who was fitted with a chair. His friend said he had crawled for 2km to reach us.
I also made sure I kept my foam- cutting skills up to date with more cushions requests from the team.
I spent some of today on the admin desk with Linda and a lovely Kenyan lady called Sarah. We moved the desk into 6 different spots as the day went on, to find shade. It is so hot in the sun but we can't work inside where the wheelchairs are stored as the lights don't work and we can't see to adjust the wheelchairs.
Some people have come who we haven't been able to help as they are children and we don't have any children's chairs left. It is so hard to turn them away. However we did offer blankets and Bibles. It is always so wonderful as whenever we offer prayer and a Bible wih Gordon, everyone always says yes. The Kenyans so often tell us how good God is- it is amazing as so many are really poor and struggling in life.
We were just about to leave when a lady arrived needing crutches so we fetched done from the store and fitted them for her.
Once again Eileen has been doing a fantastic job running training courses with Pastor Davis in disability awareness- today they have been training senior government officers at Egerton university. It is such important work. Brenda went today to film some of the work.
We went to the church centre today for the last time. Today was meant to be a clear up day but when we arrived, there were people already there. One of the first people to be seen was a 21 month old baby girl called Faith. She was disabled from when she was born. Pam taught her family how she could build up strength in the right side of her body. I really enjoyed being able to help with the exercises she was given and also distracted her with balloons, bubbles, a bag, a teddy, a blanket and GRASS!! It is amazing how easily little children are pleased!!! I was doing all of this while Pam used therapy and exercises to help her. One of the exercises was putting a toy out infront of her right arm (her weak side) and seeing if she could take it. She did this really well so I don't think it will take much for her to be really strong with both sides of her body. If the family use the exercises, then she will be able to do so much more and might even be able to walk and have a much better life.
The next person I saw was a little 11 month old baby boy called Peter. I helped Pam and Caroline to teach him how to lie down on his front and push up on his arms. He really didn't like the therapy that we did with him and he kept on crying and crying and crying. I tried to distract him with bubbles and playing with a teddy but none of this worked. I finally realised that he really liked playing peek-a-boo and he too loved the grass. Both of these children did not need a wheelchair (thank goodness as all the little wheelchairs had gone) but as they are only young, if they do the exercises then they should progress quickly. I then helped Pam with a 5 year old boy called Simon. He had Muscular Dystrophy and Pam taught him and his family some exercises as well.
There was a man who had spinal injury. He was fitted with a really good wheelchair and I helped with his pelvic belt and to adjust the only gel cushion we had to fit his wheelchair seat, as he suffers from pressure sores because he cannot feel his legs.
In total we saw about 23 people this morning. We then cleared the remaining wheelchairs and crutches. These will all be used. Eileen has measured some disabled people at Pastor Davis's church and selected the wheelchairs for them. A number are also going to the local hospice and hospital. 10 were collected this morning for Kimilili where wheelchairs have been distributed before by WFTW and Becky the physio can fit them there. There were also some that the Catholic Diocese in Nakuru and the Tegemeo disability self-help group (which Richard and Peter are part of) will use for disabled people who come to them in need. They even kept any spare parts and old broken wheelchairs that were handed in and will use these for repairs. It is so good that everything will be put to good use.
We finished clearing up about 3pm and Peter took us for a walk to see round the town of Nakuru and the local market where it started to deluge with rain so we took shelter in a little cafe. (It made me think how pleased I am that people now have wheelchairs and don't need to crawl in the rain and mud.) Once we had had a drink we took a tuk-tuk back to the hotel to pack.
I will be sad leaving tomorrow. I have so enjoyed being part of the team. (The minibus is coming at 4am to take us to the airport). We have met such wonderful people and helped many with such sad stories.
I have just heard we helped 250 people in total, which is amazing. I will always remember how the Kenyans smiled and said 'God bless you' all the time. On behalf of all the team, thank you very much - Asante sana.
You can read all of Stephi's blog entries by following this link.
Stephi's Blog - Wheels distribution day 6
We really appreciate Stephi's blogging, bringing us all the news from Nakuru Kenya each day. Here Stephi tells us about some of the disabled people the team helped. Stephi writes:
Went to the Catholic centre for 8.30 as usual. Then Alexa and I went off in a tuk- tuk to the supermarket to buy lunch for everyone. When we got back we unloaded the tuk-tuk and set off to work. First I saw a man called Joseph, he had had polio and was really lovely. Helen (one of the physio's on the team) said I was now experienced enough to fit him with crutches. I was really pleased as he said the height was just right and Helen agreed. We gave Joseph a Bible, a blanket and a bag to put his Bible in. He was so happy as he will be able to go to more places because the pressure is now off his legs.
Next I helped a lady called Elizabeth who had had a stroke so could not feel one side of her body. Once she received her wheelchair I fitted a pelvic belt for her to stop her slipping forward in the chair and cut a foam cushion - she was delighted!
I then saw a little girl called Maureen and she could not feel from her hips downwards as she had spina bifida. She was fitted with a non- moving baby seat. I felt so sorry for her because she was upset and scared of us as her mum said she had never seen white faces before. Even bubble blowing didn't cheer her up. But it is really good she now has a seat for home.
Leah was the next lady we saw. Her family said she was 100 but she was doing really well. She had been shuffling along with a wooden stool for 5 years. She was fitted with a self- propelling wheelchair and I gave her a bracelet. She was really pleased.
Caroline was especially delighted as one little girl had come in wanting a wheelchair as she could not walk but Caroline showed her mum how to encourage her with a technique and she took her first independent steps. Slowly but surely, she improved. So having come in for a wheelchair she went out being able to walk.
Midday Gordon had to go off and get more Bibles as so many people were asking for them and Roy had go and get more foam for cushions.
After a sandwich for lunch, I helped a young lad called Stephen. It was so sad as both his parents had just died and he was badly disabled. His grandma was doing her best to care for him and her own children. We hope the wheelchair will make life a bit easier for Stephen and his grandma.
Patrick was 11 and so smiley when he got his chair, a teddy, a cloth bag, a blanket and a Bible.
Cynthia was 5 years old and had had meningitis and malaria and she was fitted in a buggy which used to be a double (which no- one had use for) and the fantastic DIY man Roy made it into a single!
The last client of the day (we had 58 in total) was Mary, a tiny 7 year old with cerebral palsy. The therapists all worked ogether and managed to fit her with a static seat with a car seat insert. It was an amazing result as we couldn't bear to leave her with nothing and every last children's chair had been used.
It has been another busy day- we will all sleep well tonight.
You can read all of Stephi's blog entries by following this link.
Stephie's blog - Days 4 & 5 in Kenya
The alarm went off at 3:45 UK time (5:45 here) for us to have breakfast and then head out to the first church service at Michinda Secondary School in a village 45 minutes drive from Nakuru. We were welcomed as honoured guests and all the girls there wanted to hold my hand and touch my hair! They were very surprised at how tall I was. The children all seem so happy although the conditions were pretty basic. As part of their Sunday service, I had to stand up and make a speech to the whole school about why I had come here and what we have been doing to help disabled people. I also talked about the amazing fundraising that my school has done for Wheels for the World. I was so impressed with their understanding of English - it certainly beats my Swahili! I was speaking into a microphone and Brenda was filming me so I was really scared but was so relieved when it was over. After the service, Pastor Davis wanted to talk to all the children as there is a national teacher's strike and the children were thinking about rioting. This just shows us how much the children appreciate their education because they were going to riot because they wanted their teachers to come back.
After the first service, we then headed for Pastor Davis's church called Hope of Glory in Elburgon. We went down a muddy track into a tin-roofed hut. We were a bit late but they seemed to have waited for us. Once again we were welcomed as special guests and tried to join in but being almost all in Swahili it made it quite difficult. It was lovely to see Grace and other children in their new chairs at church. We also saw Samo who received a wheelchair on another recent distribution and he is doing really well and is so happy and sends his blessings to the UK.
3 hours into the service a group of ladies came up to sing and dance and everyone seemed to find really funny - although we didn't know what was being sung (because it was all in Swahili and Kikuyu) we joined in anyway and had a good time. I thought we were near the end of the service when Pastor Davis announced I was coming up again to make a speech - I had not planned this one and had to learn a new skill of regularly pausing for the Swahili translation. Then he asked me on the spot what was my special advice for any children in the congregation - I quickly said "follow your dream, never give up, always believe in yourself and you'll get there in the end". After nearly 4 hours the service finally drew to a close but we still had tree-planting to do to mark our visit. It was so lovely how they kept wanting to thank us.
We then had a short ride to Pastor Davis's house where we were warmly welcomed by his wife Ruth and many from his village squeezed into his sitting room. Ruth had been been up since 6am preparing the most amazing lunch. We stayed a short while before heading back to Nakuru with many children gathered on the mud track to say goodbye. It was a great day and an amazing experience (but I really hope that my speech giving is now over!!).
I am so tired - today we saw 70 disabled people and we worked from 8.30am Kenyan time til 6pm just stopping to grab a sandwich at lunchtime. I fitted so many pelvic belts I lost count, found pairs of shoes for lots of children who had none, ran in and out of the hall/ store room dozens of times to find the right size wheelchairs (and 'energy' a.k.a sweets!) for all the workers. I am delighted to have acquired a new skill in life- I have become an expert in.........you'll never guess........... cutting 3 inch thick foam with an electric carving knife to any specified size for seat cushions and pads! I hope my skills will be in demand again tomorrow.
We helped so many people but these are a few that stick in my mind:
Sheila received a purple wheelchair and a purple doll and then I found her purple boots (she thought they were fab!), a purple blanket and a purple cloth bag made by my sister Emily which she loved (the bags have been a real hit and people have been asking for them when they have seen others getting them-we are running out rapidly). Sheila put her new Bible in her bag - she had such a big smile!
Emmanuel had really rough thick skin on his knees from where he had been crawling everywhere on the ground as he had no wheelchair- but now he does and is so happy.
Another lovely boy we helped was Collins who had had cerebral palsy and also malaria when he was only one.
We also helped a boy called Joel who said his chair was SO much better than his old one.
And 52 year old Samuel was born with a problem with his legs. In the UK he would have received physiotherapy and probably leant to walk, but because of no physio his legs have withered and he can't use them at all. We had to find a really wide wheelchair for him so he could put his legs up by his side as they were so tight he couldn't put them down. I cut him a foam cushion (putting my new skill to the test) and we covered it in a beautiful crotcheted blanket so he has something soft to sit on.
Clinton was 12 years old and had cerebral palsy and yet he was a really happy boy. It was really lovely to hear him speaking little bits of English- he just kept saying 'Thank You' the whole time. Once he had his chair fitted, I found him some blue shoes and he loved them and showed everyone. He kept giving us high 5s and was so jolly and happy- he had the biggest grin in the whole world- I will never ever forget him.
The end of a busy day and all our kids wheelchairs have gone- I only hope we don't have more children coming for chairs tomorrow and Wednesday - it will be so sad if we can't help them.
Eileen has been off today doing disability training - I look forward to hearing all about it.
You can read all of Stephi's blog entries by following this link.
Stephie's Blog - Nakuru Days 2 and 3
We set off at 8:15 to walk to the centre. When we got there, we carried some tent poles to a grass area and the team put up a large tent for us to work in. The centre has a big room where we had laid out all the wheelchairs the day before but the lights don't work so it was impossible to fit and adjust the wheelchairs there. We are all going to be super fit by the end of our stay, running to and fro between the tent and the dark hall.
At first only 2 mothers had come carrying their disabled children on there backs. Then out of the blue, a bus load of people came, then more and more- we knew we had a busy day ahead! The first little boy to be seen was called Isaac. He was 4 years old and and his mother wanted him to have a walking frame but when one of the therapists tried to fit him with a frame, his legs were so weak that he flopped down and the frame dug into his arms. This would have caused much more damage to his body so we had to find a more suitable solution . He was fitted with a great kiddy wheelchair and was so happy when he went away with his new chair and a bright knitted teddybear.
There was a beautiful little 18 month old girl called Grace and she was brought by her mother. Grace has rickets and was also born with no arms, just one thumb. All the children's wheelchairs were far too big then suddenly Pam remembered there was a pram- like "snug seat". After a few adjustments it fitted her perfectly. She also told the mum to try to put clothes on Grace that kept her stumps free so that she could start learning to use her one thumb. Grace had 7 siblings- her mum was so grateful but life must be pretty hard.
I was really sad to here the story of another little girl whose grandmother is bringing her up as her mum walked out on her when she realised that she had a disabled child and has never come back. While she was being fitted with a wheelchair, her 12 year old aunt asked if she could have a Bible. It was so lovely as she was so enthusiastic and happy. Gordon was delighted to find that each time he thought he had given out the last children's bible, there was always another. Many people also needed crutches and other walking aids and it was a busy time trying to help everyone.
Lunch was an adventure! Peter from Tegemeo (the disability group that helped arrange the distribution with Wheels for the World), took me and Alexa to the supermarket. This involved running to keep up with him as he sped off on his hand- cranked tricycle up the road to Nakuru town and we tried to keep up with him whilst also avoiding the pot holes, corn sellers and mad traffic (especially the 3- wheeled tuk-tuks!). We headed back with sandwich kit for the team who grabbed a bite to eat the set back to work again.
The afternoon was still busy with many to help, but as the rain descended and we sheltered under the tent the last few wheelchairs and crutches were fitted 43 in total- it was the end of another very long day.
We've had a great day today and can't wait til tomorrow...
Fueled by a breakfast of sausages and passion fruit juice (I turned down the avocado juice!) we headed back to start work at the Catholic centre at 8.30am.
There was a boy called Victor aged 7 who was disabled from polio. He had had to travel 2 hours with his dad by bus to reach us. He was fitted with one of the great news kids chairs that had been donated in the UK. We cut and taped extra pads to support his sides so that he didn't flop over. We added a tray made by the great DIY man Roy.
Then we saw a girl called Lucy who was 8 and had a lot of problems. Her mum said she had to eat special foods such as pumpkin, she couldn't take liquids on their own but only with a solid and needed a lot of medication every day. She was so happy to receive a wheelchair and of course a knitted teddy.
Emanuel was a lovely 6 year old boy who had mild cerebral palsy and Caroline decided he should have a self- propelling wheelchair as although his arms and legs were weak, he would build up strength in his arms, the more he propelled himself. He got the hang of it very quickly. His mum asked if we had any shoes for him so I measured his feet and found some bright red open toe boots. His face lit up when he saw them as his mum said he loved red and he kept sticking his feet in the air to show them off and giving us high 5s! He was such a happy little boy and will always stick in my mind.
Two sisters were brought by a neighbour and an aunt who are having to care for them as their mum is in hospital as she struggling with HIV. It is so sad to see so many children whose mothers aren't around. We also saw another child today who was abandoned by her mother when the mother realised she had a disabled child- once again the grandma is doing her best but life is tough. At least we could help by giving a wheelchair.
We were so lucky in the afternoon as Pastor Davis had managed to arrange for us to have a free afternoon's safari in the Lake Nakuru National Park just down the road. It was the most amazing experience as we saw lions, zebra, white rhinos and giraffes, not to mention the baboons that tried to climb inside the van! But we thought we might end up there for the night when we hit a huge hole in the road and the broke down. Fortunately we got towed out far enough to restart and make it back to the hotel for fellowship and supper. We'll sleep well again tonight!
You can read all of Stephi's blog entries by following this link.
Tim (our CEO) and wife Lynne are celebrating the safe arrival of their fifth child, Hannah Joy, born on Tuesday 6th Sept, weighing 8lb 1oz. Lynne and Hannah are doing well, and the children are all very excited to have a new baby sister.
Stephi's Blog (Wheels in Nakuru) - Day one
Our youngest Wheels for the World team member, teenager Stephi, is writing about her experiences in Nakuru, Kenya, whilst on a wheelchair distribution trip - we hope you enjoy reading what she has to say!
The whole team met up at Heathrow, that's Glenda, Eileen, Pam, Caroline, Linda, Roy, Gordon, Helen, Brenda, Alexa and me, Stephi, as finally our Kenya trip was starting.
After a long 8 hours flight, our wait was over and we touched down in the capital Nairobi. Alexa and I nearly lost the team by finding an alternative route to passport control but they retrieved us and our bags and we headed on the waiting minibus to our destination Nakuru. We saw our first African game- well actually they were steel elephants on the roundabout but we were excited!
We watched with intrigue while Kenyan drivers queue jumped by heading down a ditch and across the fields to avoid the horrendous traffic jams. We had our first glimpse of Kenyan life, very poor and loads of market stalls, wandering goats and donkey carts. Finally, the road cleared and we headed on to Nakuru via The Rift Valley. We all tried not to nod off as various team members spotted zebra, gazelles, baboons and warthogs in the distance. We arrived at Chester hotel after 4 and a half hours in the minibus. It is basic but clean and welcoming.
After lunch we walked down the crowded and increasingly muddy streets of Nakuru as the heavens opened to welcome the Brits with a proper tropical storm. At the Catholic Diocese church centre, our local friends Richard, Peter and Pastor Davis introduced us to many locals who were so happy and grateful for the work of Wheels for the World - it was really humbling. Then we ran through the rain to where all the wheelchairs were stacked high and unloaded and sorted them all into sizes ready to start the distribution tomorrow. What a day! The people of Kenya are so kind and welcoming and happy to make friends.
Thank you Lord for this opportunity to serve.
You can read all of Stephi's blog entries by following this link.
Videos from Uganda
Here are a few videos from our April 2011 distribution to Uganda. Below the videos, you can find a few more details about the interviewees. First up, Henry talks about what having a wheelchair means to him...
Next, Joan, another recipient, talks about her new wheelchair, and afterwards, goes for a first-time spin around the distribution
Henry is 26 years old. He is a proud gentleman and although he would have the physical ability to crawl relied on his friends to carry him, as this is more dignified. Henry works with disabled children in the community and is a role model to them. His disability is as a result of an accident at age 16, he is unable to move or feel his legs.
Henry was given a wheelchair last year, but unfortunately the plastic cross supports broke within the first two months of him using it on the rough terrain. Henry was therefore very specific about the type of wheelchair he would benefit from so as not to experience the same disappointment again. Very few of the wheelchairs we had with us had this plastic cross section, so we were easily able to find a suitable replacement.
Henry chose not to have sides on the wheelchair as he finds it easier to move and reach for things without them on. Henry gave the example of the armrests getting in the way when sweeping the floor, obviously a domesticated gentleman! He took the armrests with him because in the wet season it will protect his trousers from the dirt off the wheels.
Henry described "getting a wheelchair is like Jesus Christ has resurrected"
Joan is 29 and has had polio since birth. Her left leg is stronger than her right and she has difficulty coordinating her movements. This makes walking require a lot of effort, and while she can walk short distances with crutches it takes Joan a lot of time and energy. Joan attends a rehabilitation centre/school (she is wearing her uniform) and was given a self propelled wheelchair which allows her to move more freely. She explains the difference a wheelchair will make to her in the video.
Joan was given a wheelchair with armrests that she can swing out of the way easily to allow her to get under a desk. We fixed a crutch holder to the back of her wheelchair to enable her to carry her crutches with her wherever she goes so that she has the option of which mobility aid to use to suit each situation.
One Year to Go
The world’s third largest sporting event – the Paralympics – is now only one year away from coming to the UK. The event will shine the spotlight on disabled people and give our churches an unprecedented opportunity to demonstrate God’s inclusive heart.
The Paralympics will demonstrate that disabled men and women have God-given gifts to share. Through the Roof is planning to play its part by resourcing Christians and churches to more fully engage with disabled people’s gifts to enrich our communities. We have a few new things up our sleeve so to make sure you don’t miss out on them, why not become a friend on our Facebook page, contact us to receive our free Vital Link newsletter, and keep checking back to our website.
Paralympic tickets go on sale on 9th September so why not make a booking to see the action. The day before, 8th September 2011, is International Paralympics Day, so why not use it to pray for our UK Paralympians, in particular those who have a Christian faith that they can be a blessing to those around them.
(Photo by Flickr user 'Jonas in China' -- his photos from Paralympics 2008 can be seen byfollowing this link)