Wheels in Uganda 2012 - Phil's Blog
The Wheels team are working in Uganda from the 27th June to the 7th July. We'll be posting regular blog updates from team member, Phil Green. Thank you to Phil (and all the team!) for taking the time to keep us all up to date.
Thursday 28th June - Day 1
After two 6 hour flights traveling between London Heathrow via Doha then onto Uganda we landed. Not so bright but still very early.
Some managed to get some sleep on the plane, well, I think everyone bar Glenda and myself, I never sleep easily when traveling and this time was no exception. I did spend 2nd flight discussing war and peace (not really) with Anna who had just come back from Costa Rica just days before to join the team. When we eventually put the world to rights and shut up she dropped off like a light bulb. If only I was so lucky.
When we landed we were met at the airport by some of the RILD team who are hosting us and headed off to Rest Gardens where we were staying.
Bags unpacked (sort of) and a quick shave (for me not the ladies) and we were off into the city to get money exchanged and off for some food and mobile sim cards.
At this point the container still wasn’t on the move to the distribution point but Glenda and Gordon went to the DHL office to find out what was going on. We were told it would be on its way shortly.
So we went off next to get the Bibles sorted, or so we thought. Glenda and Gordon again went off to sort things out whilst the OT’s/ Physios and Roy were debating what seemed to me to the the inner workings of commodes. After 'bottoming' that one out we wondered if they were having to reprint the Bibles due to the delay.
It turned out there was some miscommunication and as such the Bibles which were requested just weren't available. (not till late July!) Thankfully another choice was available, but we needed to wait for the man with the key to the store room.
Eventually, we were told they would bring them to the RILD offices so we headed off yet again this time via another store who had some books suitable for children. Yet again Glenda and Gordon sorted out another issue whist the rest of the team discussed dental care and other critically important subjects whilst waiting patiently in the back of the mini-bus.
Pip was very good and abstained all my attempts to fill her with sugary sweets. Next we headed off to the distribution centre at the RILD offices to hopefully meet the container.
Kampala has some manic traffic issues so it took us some time to get to the offices but long story short(er) the container eventually turned up. The driver had a slightly eventful reversing maneuver by crashing into a wall and almost demolishing it. The wall belonged to a neighbor of RILD who had agreed to let us store the chairs there.
The wall remained in place but with some damage not fixable with duck tape and cable ties. So we started unloading the container although, we even had some rain to help us along. I ended up inside the container but ended up soaking wet, I promise it was down to hard work and it being pretty hot in there.
About an hour and a half later we had unloaded and we were ready to head off back to the hotel. The Bibles hadn’t turned up at that time but we were exhausted and set off back.
We were all flagging but had showers and got refreshed for dinner.
I had a rather shocking shower, quite literally, as when I switched on the power to the shower unit it electrified the on/off tap. I wasn’t quite sure what had hit me the first time so I decided to touch it again just to make sure! Doh. They will fix it tomorrow so a cold shower ended up refreshing me.
I think some of us could have fallen asleep on our food, it’s been a pretty exhausting day in all.
So that's day one. Off to bed now once I send this first day report in and hopefully I’ll be refreshed for Day 2 which will be our first day here distributing wheel chairs. The team's been great so far and I’m praying that we will have smoother sailing tomorrow... so night for now.
Philippa and Tim on Leader's TV
Philippa and Tim have been interviewed about being inclusive on Urban Saints' 'Leader's TV' programme. Follow this link to watch a video of their appearance
by Nick Stanyon
If I had a pound for everyone who asked me ’do you know your dog is limping?’ I’d be a very rich man! But I’d rather be a lot poorer, without the irritation of their ‘kindness’. Of course I know! I’ve lived with it for years, and nursed her through the long weeks of paralysis and incontinence at the start of it all. The fact that she now has a limp is nothing compared to what has been. She’s not in any pain, she’s not got a cut, and as far as we know she hasn’t got arthritis either.
But still they queue up to tell us.
The first reaction we get when people see Nina is an ‘Ooh!’ of delight, because she really is a beautiful dog. This is closely followed by an ‘Aah!’ as people recognise her limp and respond in sympathy. We hear it under their breath, or whispered to each other when they think we are out of ear shot, if they don’t say it out loud to us. ‘Ooh...Aah!’ It is a virtually universal reaction.
Soon after Nina was able to walk and sort of run after her ball again, an elderly gentleman came up to me in the park and said, ‘You know, my wife thinks you are cruel. She sees you walking past the window ( ‘cos she can’t get out now, you know!), dragging that poor dog behind you. You should have it put down, she says.’ ( Can you imagine how that made me feel?) But then he quickly followed it up with, ‘But I tells her she’s talking rubbish. I’ve seen her in the park, how she runs and how she delights to chase her ball. She happy, isn’t she?’ (At this point I was thankful I decided not to follow my first instinct and hit him!)
But the thing is, the first thing people see about Nina is her disability. They see it and they feel sorry. But they don’t see the wonderful character and strength of the dog that literally dragged herself to her feet after weeks of total paralysis. All she wanted to do was to chase her ball! In the end, on that most wonderful day, she went for it and did it. She still loves to do it now. So what kind of a cruel person would I be if I didn’t take her to the park and play ball with her, no matter how much she limps or drags her hind feet behind her?
You see, her disability may be an obvious feature about Nina, but I don’t accept that it should be the defining feature of her. I may sometimes call her ‘my disabled dog’ in shorthand to make communication easier, but really I never want to think of her in that way. I feel guilty if I use those words because I know Nina is far more than a disabled dog. She is Nina, with many other strengths and characteristics too.
Now Jesus met many people with illnesses and disabilities, but I don’t believe Jesus ever saw a ‘disabled person’; he saw a person, a full and whole person, who may have had a disability but had much more to him or her than that.
So, when his disciples joined in the general discussion of whether a man’s blindness was caused by his own or his parents sins, he refused to allow that person to be reduced to an intellectual problem and an object of theological discussion – and he healed him on a day and in a way that revealed there were many around who were far more disabled, paralysed by legalism and having suffered an amputation of compassion and care.
To another man ,who had to be carried by his friends to see Jesus and lowered through the roof because there was no other way to get him in (so much for disabled access!), Jesus said ‘your sins are forgiven’. And he said this not at all because he was blaming the man’s paralysis on his sins, but because he could see beyond the man’s disability to the whole person beyond; a person who had deeper issues to deal with than his inability to walk. In doing so, Jesus treated this man just like he would treat the rest of us, because ‘all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God’. Like all of us, this person needed all his needs addressed, not just those that came with his disability. Perhaps that is what so many who are labelled ‘disabled’ actually long for – to be treated just like everyone else. I suspect Jesus knew that well. (Only later, when this deeper healing and his authority to give it was being questioned, did Jesus tell the man to take up his bed and walk).
When a leper (or rather a man with a dreaded skin disease!) came to him for healing, it was not enough for Jesus to cleanse his skin, he sent him to report to the synagogue and do all that the law required. Why? Because this man had not only suffered from his illness, he had suffered more from the social ostracism that would crush any human spirit. Jesus sent him to the place where he could be officially restored to community. And his acceptance by others, his welcome home, his inclusion in society was something he needed (and probably longed for) far more than physical healing.
Again, a woman who had been bleeding for many years and had probably spent all her money on this doctor and that medication secretly stole a touch of healing from Jesus. Jesus felt the power going out of him, and you may think the best thing to do would have been to let the woman walk quietly away and rejoice in her new found well being. But no, Jesus demanded that she show herself publically. Why? Because once again her greatest need was to be welcomed back into community, no longer ‘labelled’ and excluded, but free to be seen as fully human again.
I once travelled on a crowded train in comfort. I had plenty of leg room, because the seat around me was reserved for wheelchair users, and there was nobody there. When I arrived at my destination, I met a friend on the station. She a wheelchair user, but despite the fact that there was room for her in the carriage beside me, she had been made to travel the full distance in the guards van with the luggage. Next to her was a pile of medical deliveries; bags of blood from the blood donor service. Imagine her indignity at being treated no better that a bag of blood! I felt so angry when she told me, and meant to complain, but she was resigned and defeated and would rather not have the fuss. Things like this had happened before. She was used to being treated as sub human. Used to being seen as an inconvenience. Used to being seen as a ‘disabled person’ and nothing more (although the bag of blood analogy had certainly shaken her)
I fully believe that Jesus would have raged against the railway that allowed this to happen. He would be fully behind equality laws and building regulations that force us to enable access to our buildings and access to our services for all people, no matter how costly and inconvenient that may sometimes seem. He would continue today in challenging society to embrace all people, including those who have disabilities. And most of all he would continue to recognise all people, whether they are able-bodied or not, as the full and wonderful people that they are; people with courage, strength, joys and enthusiasms, hopes and dreams; people reflecting the glory of the image of God.
It frustrates me when all that people see about Nina is her limp and disability. I know there is so much more than to her than that; so much that is wonderful, strong and true. I hope and pray that God will open my eyes to see beyond the immediate and obvious in other people, to appreciate their hidden depths and potential, their full humanity, the image of God within.
Lord, limps and scars and wheel chairs do not stop you from recognising the person within. Help me to look deeper, with your eyes of love. And if I ever see or treat a person as less than they are in you, forgive me. Open the eyes of my heart to each person’s strengths and potential, to their full humanity, to the reflection of your image within. Amen.
All Inclusive? Urban Saints Seminar
All Inclusive? An essential seminar for anyone who works with and cares about children and young people with special or additional needs. How can parents, churches and children’s/youth workers not only understand more about the children we are working with, but also change the way we work with them so to be more inclusive? Contact Mark Arnold at Urban Saints by following this link or phone 07983 258183 for more details or to arrange to host an evening. Follow this link to the Urban Saints Website to read more about the seminar
“Wow - the seminar of the night for me. Worth coming for this one alone. I LOVED it. Perfect balance between statistics and personal experience - the guy's heart for kids being included really shone through :)” – Feedback from Hitchin PHASE Training Evening, October 2011
"Two Weeks for TTR" is on the way...
Two months today, 14th August, marks the start of our awareness and fundraising initiative, Two Weeks for TTR. We’ve planned it for the fortnight leading up to the Paralympics – a great opportunity to raise the profile of disability in general as well as of our programmes.
We're encouraging all supporters to come up with their own way of being involved - for example, DCF Trent Valley are having a coffee morning; one couple are holding a pub quiz (contact us if you'd like a questions list to run your own quiz); one supporter has sent in a lovely poem which we will be making available on request in return for a small donation...
Staff are also joining in the fun - a furniture sale has already taken place, a hand-embroidered picture is now ready to be auctioned and a garden party has also been planned.
We’d love to hear what you’re planning to do. Let us know what you’re up to, when you’re going to do it, and whether you’d like it publicised on our website and/or on Facebook.
Your support will make a difference. Thank you!