Wheels in Kenya 2021 - Blog 2
Reporting from our supported wheelchair distribution in Elburgon, Kenya. A local team will be fitting people with wheelchairs for the next 6 to 7 weeks (from mid-August through to September), ably assisted remotely by a UK team of therapists and specialists. Technical problems are making it hard to get blog posts over regularly, but we'll bring you reports from the in-country Kenyan team as often as communications allow. Please keep praying for the team, both in Kenya and the UK. Thank you for your support!
Day 2: 9th AUGUST, 2021
The Kenyan team assembled as usual but a few arrived late due to heavy rains in the morning. The clients started arriving one hour late due to rains. All village pathways are earthen and with no maintained roads. Some terrains are difficult to go through when it rains due to mud which make movement very challenging. As you may be aware, some of the clients are carried on guardian’s backs on the heavy one on plastic chairs, while those coming from deep in the rural areas may be carried on homemade mats from their houses to the main feeder roads.
When the distribution started, the communication with our UK team was interrupted by noise from the roof rains, the electricity went off and thus the poor visibility of the UK team. To improve communication, both pictures and assessment forms were frequently sent to our UK teams for easy understanding of the nature of the client’s disability condition. The network signal was constant with help of powerful 4G gadgets which sustain the network 85 % during the day. Besides all the day’s challenges, the UK team and Kenyan team worked very hard. Gradually communication between the teams improved and the afternoon session opened better communication. A few interesting stories were of the clients were recorded, including the story of Mitshel, a 12 year old girl.
Mitshel was born with disability due to cerebral palsy. She cannot stand, nor walk or support herself well. Throughout her life she wholly depends on her mother.
The mother could not control her tears of joy after receiving the wheelchair. She says that she has lived wishing to have a wheelchair but due to financial challenges she could not afford one and today her dream comes true. Her touching words were that “What an amazing wonder that I have been given a wheelchair for free by someone who is not even a family member or even a government personnel surely God makes a way where seem to be no way”
The mother says that, the life of her daughter will change drastically since she will be able to go with her everywhere very easily e.g. during their fellowship, going to hospital. She adds that she has been leaving her at bed and locking the house; a situation that she was feeling was very unsafe.
Her prayer is that God will increase every person involved in this noble job to be uplifted higher and higher beyond their imagination.
Wheels in Kenya 2021 - Blog 1
Reporting from our supported wheelchair distribution in Elburgon, Kenya. A local team will be fitting people with wheelchairs for the next 6 to 7 weeks (from mid-August through to September), ably assisted remotely by a UK team of therapists and specialists. We'll bring you reports from the in-country Kenyan team as often as communications allow. Please keep praying for the team, both in Kenya and the UK. Thank you for your support!
DAY ONE : 06.08.2021
The day of distribution was highly awaited by all of us with some anxiety especially from the Kenyan team. Most people from Kenya were wondering on how the technology was going to work with our UK team approximately 6000 miles away. The physiotherapist arrived about 30 minutes late since most of them had to report at station of work first. The weather was promising and quite good.
Distribution began with Pastor Davis connecting with the UK team and with prayer, then introduction of both teams.
Many people were helped, and given wheelchairs and other aids. Among them was Julia age 13 years. She had some severe Cerebral Palsy. When she was first seated on the wheelchair, her mother said that “Truly this is the day that God comes by Himself using the donors of this wheelchair, our car. My daughter has never walked nor moved herself from one point to the other, has been forever grounded and restricted. In fact she seem more burden to me and the entire family. Most of the time, I cry and ask questions with no answer. But today a big answer has come. My daughter is enabled to move freely with less support, she will now enjoy sunshine and view of the environment and its beauty. Julia looks happier than ever before. God Bless you servants of God for creating hope in my family. Now, stress is reduced and God will be reigning in my family. Davis, thank you and send my heartfelt thanksgiving to our friends, brothers and sisters in UK.”
The Future of TTR
Summary of our survey findings
As part of our Strategic planning process during 2021, we compiled a 12-question survey. People from within and external to the organisation were invited to complete it. We received 86 responses in total, with excellent representation from across the whole charity including: volunteers from all programmes, prayer supporters, donors, staff, trustees, UK and international partners. A few people who were ‘new’ to the organisation with no prior engagement were also specifically invited to gain ‘first impressions’. Ages ranged from teenagers to 70+. There was significant representation by disabled people.
It is encouraging to note that there was a real sense of ownership by respondents. Many referred to ‘we’ rather than ‘you’. In addition, two respondents who I would refer to as International Partners, both identified themselves as ‘Wheels team-member’ and ‘Roofbreaker’, which confirms that there is a strong sense of togetherness and ‘family’.
To summarise all the feedback, people would say that ‘we are doing a great job, and there are some things that could help us do even better.’
Our vision is overwhelmingly supported by respondents. 96% (83 respondents) said ‘Yes’ they supported this vision. 1% (1 respondent) said they ‘Mostly’ supported the vision; 1% (1 respondent) said ‘Partly’; and 1% (1 respondent) said ‘No’, they didn’t support the vision
83% of those who answered (68) thought the charity’s activities matched its vision; 13% (11) thought they ‘Mostly’ did; and the remaining 4% (3) felt they ‘Partly’ matched.
10% of respondents (9) made particular reference to ‘empowerment of’, or ‘all contributing’ or the ‘encouragement of the gifts of disabled people, e.g…
“Love how they encourage the gifts of people with disabilities. TTR does try to put its own message into practice and set a good example for others to follow.”
9% (8) acknowledged the Christian focus of the vision, e.g…
“I am excited to see what God has done and continues to do through TTR. I have seen the vision in practice through the ministry of the Roof Breaker network and also the work of Wheels and Churches Inc. I have seen people being given a safe and encouraging place to worship God and use their gifts and being empowered to go out and bless their churches and communities”.
A small but significant number of people, 6% (5), highlighted the need for the vision to be expressed more precisely, e.g…
“It does not speak of the exact nature of the charity.”
“Difficult to disagree with…but…completely unmemorable and doesn’t refer to disabled people” e.g. A CHURCH WITHOUT BARRIERS TO DISABLED PEOPLE”
“Is TTR's central vision really about people 'enjoying life'? Sometimes life is tough…and…'enjoying life' not an option e.g. All people knowing God's love, mutually giving and receiving, as God intended”.
- “This is a precious vision and very much needed”.
- “'Roofbreaker' initiative seems a strategically vital part of the work…Imagine hundreds or thousands of local Roofbreakers, all with the same mission purpose, message and support. The more they locally link together the more the work can increase… Each Roofbreaker becomes a local, mini- 'TTR'”.
- “Holidays seem to be just catered towards disabled people, but if you want people to be 'enjoying life together...as God intended' you could provide holidays that cater for and welcome families with disabled people, but also families of all abilities and backgrounds, allowing them all to holiday together”.
- “Many people within churches across the country don’t even know of the work you do”.
Our Mission also has overwhelming support from respondents. 97% (83) said ‘Yes’ they fully support the mission; 2% (2) ‘Mostly’ support it; and 1% (1) said ‘No’ they didn’t support it.
83% of those who answered (68) thought the charity’s activities matched its mission; 13% (11) thought they ‘Mostly’ did; and the remaining 4% (3) felt they ‘Partly’ matched.
A very encouraging 23% (20) acknowledged the Christian distinctive of the mission, e.g…
“TTR doesn't hide its Christian ethos and that is to its credit”.
“It is very apparent that Through the Roof is a Christian charity and tries to be Jesus’ hands and feet, voice etc in its work”.
5% (4) emphasised the importance of the mission being ‘with’ disabled people, e.g…
“As a disabled person I have been blessed and challenged beyond anything I could have expected when I signed up for my first mission trip. Thank you TTR for providing a space where I can serve. I believe strongly that Jesus has a plan and purpose for all people and that people with disabilities have unique insights and experiences that can bless and encourage (and where appropriate) challenge the church and bear testimony to the faithfulness of God”.
5% (4) recognised the integral part of church inclusion/accessibility to the mission, e.g…
“It has been really great to work alongside disabled leaders at TTR to create encouraging conversations as well as learning from them how we can do church in a more accessible way”.
- “More punchy…How about SHARING THE WELCOME OF JESUS WITH DISABLED PEOPLE”?
- “It’s a Christian statement instead of one that might carry beyond the Christian sphere, which includes the people that Through the Roof wants to share Jesus with”.
- “I think there are more opportunities to share the gospel clearly on trips, on holidays and retreats and to support Roofbreakers sharing the gospel with people in their local church context/disability ministries. I think this is so important we need to be asking ourselves when/how to present the gospel. Many people do not really know who Jesus is or why he came. How can their lives be transformed by Jesus if they have not put their faith in him received forgiveness for their sins”?
91% of those who responded (70) said ‘Yes’, the values match the way things are done by Through the Roof. The remaining 9% (7) said they ‘Mostly’ match.
Examples of when TTR has demonstrated its values include…
“Demonstrated by wheelchair distributions in poor nations where the indignity of crawling on the floor through disability is, almost in a moment, turned upside down by the gift of a mobility aid, properly adapted to the user”.
“As a disabled person myself I have been given many opportunities to be involved and I feel my contribution has been valued and appreciated. I have changed as a result of being involved and trust others’ lives have been changed too”.
“My best experiences of these values have been on Churches Inc trips with a team of people that have different disabilities and abilities. Helping each other to cope with the demands of the trip. Christ-centred when we share our testimonies at events or teach from the bible to show that including people with disabilities is on His heart”.
“My sons who both have disabilities were welcomed on a holiday with Through the Roof, after we had bad experiences with other Christian holiday providers”.
- “One of the undeclared values is the importance of every individual as being made in the image of God”.
- “Are these the values that shape the way the organisation operates, makes its decisions and choices, sets it priorities and treats its people are they the values it promotes to churches when pursuing its outreach to churches”?
97% of respondents who answered (73) said ‘Yes’ it was right to focus on these the two strategic aims; the remaining 3% (2) said ‘Mostly’.
- “Please don't change your aims. They are exactly right!”
- “The challenge is, how can Through the Roof tap into (a secular) audience to reach disabled people and families whose lives seem incredibly exhausting and limiting from a mental, physical and spiritual perspective?”
- “I think the move towards local networks and Roofbreakers in local churches is a very powerful way to meet these aims”.
- “I see TTR as being able to provide a place of welcome, connection, understanding and support for disabled people who are feeling isolated and find it difficult to integrate into their local church communities. This, alongside supporting churches to become more inclusive, will hopefully help people know that 'God can prepare a table in the desert'; a rich feast of life, love and spiritual refreshment for those who feel 'outside' the church. Hopefully life-changing too”!
- “As a person with a disability and also a church leader, I’m passionate about making church as accessible as we can. Having people with disabilities serving in prominent positions in the church has been a key area, as it communicates to anyone coming into the church that they can get involved despite any obstacles or hindrances they may have. TTR need to keep these two strategic aims at the forefront of all they do”.
- “There needs to be some way of empowering Partners to assist in retraining and opening roads to employment. Mobility without a means of being independent and self-sufficient is only doing half a job. For people to feel a useful member of society there has to be more emphasis on working alongside our Partner developing Skills Programmes of useful employment opportunities e.g. cycle repair, tailoring and dress making, carpentry, hair and beauty, computing etc”.
- “The way TTR is set up, those needing the equipping see it in action - because you provide opportunities for disabled people to be part of that change”.
92% (69) of respondents said ‘Yes’ it was right to focus on these three programmes; the remaining 8% (6) said they ‘Mostly’ agreed.
- “I don't feel alone in my mission, even if I am the only one who is remotely bothered about disability inclusion at my church…it's good to feel part of a community of Roofbreakers”.
- “Wheels trips are great, but I believe they should include a far greater focus on equipping local people with skills and knowledge to assist disabled people in the future rather than them relying on teams from the UK going out sporadically”.
- “In your next phase I believe you need to look like one charity rather than three”.
- “Gifts and abilities discovery and development; Leadership development”.
- “I'm seeing people talking about Roofbreakers all over the place now - do keep putting out the stories of these champions so I can share them!”
Interestingly, no single area dominated the perceived strengths of the charity – either from the perspective of the person’s own context or across the whole organisation.
The following were the top featured areas of strength of TTR as experienced by the respondent in their context…
Prayer/God-centred – 13% (11)
Wheels for the World – 9% (8)
Church training/education/resources – 9% (8)
Roofbreakers – 7% (6)
Holidays/Retreats/Groups – 7% (6)
Staff and leadership/people – 7% (5)
The following were the top featured areas of strength across the whole organisation…
Wheels for the World – 9% (8)
Empower/encourage disabled people in their faith – 8% (7)
Equipping church/promoting inclusion – 8% (7)
Focus on Jesus – 7% (6)
Roofbreakers – 6% (5)
- “An organisation is only as good as its people and its culture and in my experience, these are both excellent”.
- “I have personally so valued being involved in the holidays and having the opportunity to see the impact of talking about your work to various groups and seeing attitudes change as a result”.
- “I'm astonished by what such a small charity achieves - definitely punches above its weight! I have been particularly grateful for the quality of leadership of the (Wheels) Team Leaders. The trips have changed me, opened my eyes, warmed my heart and given an opening of conversation to talk with friends, colleagues and random strangers about disability and God's love”.
- “I feel I can recommend and promote TTR in many different situations without any concerns”.
- “I have found my experience of working with TTR extremely positive. The staff I have worked with have been very professional, warm, collaborative, and keen to listen to different points of views. It's a real partnership and is a pleasure to work in this way, which I think brings the best out of people”.
- “TTR communicates a positive Christian perspective on disability that encourages churches to include and involve disabled people and creates pathways for disabled people to discover Christian faith and encounter Jesus”.
- “I know disabled people or those with experience of disability have been part of each step”.
Encouragingly, the largest response to this question, both from the perspective of the person’s own context and across the whole organisation was that people didn’t answer or reported that they couldn’t think of any. However, the theme of communications and profile of the work and the whole charity was seen as a common weakness by respondents.
The following were the top featured areas of weakness in the context of the respondent…
- No answer/None – 56% (48)
- Communications/Marketing/Profile – 8% (7)
The following were the top featured areas of weakness across the whole organisation…
- No answer/None – 43% (37)
- Communications/Marketing/Profile – 16% (8)
- Internal communication/crossover between programmes – 3% (3)
- “Recognition of TTR in churches is still very low. We do our best to point people to you, but so often have to explain who you are first”.
- “The impression I have, is that TTR is not well known throughout the UK's local church network”.
- “It needs to invest massively more funds on communication. On my travels TTR is hardly ever known about by Christian leaders. What makes this more painful is that people are thrilled to hear about it when I tell them, and the normal response is – Why have I never heard about this before? Communication is time consuming and expensive, but it is the only way of spreading the word”.
- “Could a range of different groups meet online with a focus on creating a network of hosts/co-hosts (to include disabled people) offering fellowship and connection?”
- “Enable disabled people to discover abilities and gifts and provide suggestions and frameworks for involvement; Develop more disabled leaders not just for the disability Christian community but more widely; analyse what makes church and Christian activity work for disabled people”
- “Use its excellent reputation and depth of skills and wisdom to strive for a wholesale transformation of the UK church's understanding of (theology of) disability and inclusion and enabling of disabled people - and 'force multiply' its effort by leadership”.
- “Holidays for all abilities/families that are inclusive of but not exclusive for disabled people”.
Where is God at work?
There was encouraging recognition that God is at work in and through the charity…
- “Through many testimonies I've heard over the years from disabled people, which show how He is at work in their lives”.
- “In its people as they minister to others and selflessly give practical assistance”.
- “Countless special moments on holidays - Dalesdown, Treloars..... friendships and connections I have made with people with whom I still have contact.”
- “Every holiday, overseas trip and trustee meeting I ever attended.”
- “God works through all you lovely people.”
- “How work has multiplied.”
- “God is meeting the financial needs of the charity in very difficult times.”
Areas to consider for initiation or development
We have drawn together the following themes from the survey findings for further consideration by Trustees, so keep in touch to stay informed of any new developments…
- Enabling disabled people into leadership/responsibilities/vocation
- International development (short-term mission trips or longer term local development?)
- Partnerships (complement and contribute content to other organisations?)
- Marketing/Communicating the message/developing online presence
- Internal communication/better links and cohesion between programmes
- Expansion of number of volunteer roles (including gap year opportunity for young people)
Thank you to everyone who took the time to contribute thoughts and experiences. Every person involved has helped to shape what TTR has done and will continue to do, guided by God.
Many kind comments were made by people about the work and the charity. Here are two to finish with…
“I believe the charity has a big influence not just on the disabled in this country and abroad but on those like me who have been involved on WFTW trips and holidays in the UK. Doing these things changes one. There is also the wider influence eg I've given many talks to all kinds of community groups and this has been an opportunity to open people’s eyes to the plight of disabled people in poorer countries and share the gospel in a gentle but powerful way. (ie the fact that God's love motivates me to do this and that God's love for "the least of these" is immense)”.
“My horizons have been broadened, my faith and skills stretched to the limit, so we had to rely on God, and my understanding of the worldwide Church of Christ become a reality. THANK YOU TO EVERYONE AT TTR FOR GUIDING, DIRECTING AND GIVING ME SO MANY RICH AND UNFORGETTABLE EXPERIENCES”.
Tim Wood, August 2021
Through the Roof's work is made possible by donations from generous supporters like you. Please consider giving to help continue the work. Thank you!
God at Work in Through the Roof -- the Summer 2021 Vital Link
We're excited to bring you the latest issue of the Vital Link newsletter! The Summer 2021 issue is available now -- download your copy to find out about the results of our recent survey, the upcoming in-person retreat, new Luke 5 inclusion award recipients, Wheels for the World on Songs of Praise, and much more!
The Vital Link is also available in print, CD, in large print, and in Braille. Please contact us if you'd like one of those formats.
You can also view the PDF in the JooMag viewer, which offers easy zooming and page scrolling...
Ashburnham Retreat Flyer Text
Through the Roof invites you to our in-person (residential) retreat.
At Ashburnham Place, Near Battle, East Sussex TN33 9NF
Date: 6 to 12 September 2021
Our theme for the week: I am who he says I am
One of the greatest blessings that God gives to us when we become followers of Jesus is that we can know who we really are. “To all those who received Him, that believe in His name, He gave the right to become children of God“. (John 1:12) This is who we are but it is only a starting point. Knowing your identity is the beginning of deep down change. It empowers you to believe and to live in the way that God intended when he designed you. This retreat will enable you to understand your own identity in God and to be confident in who you really are.
This will be our focus throughout the week as we spend time meeting with God and each other. There will be times of teaching and reflection (the retreat is open to all over 18s - please note teaching will be at an adult level). Whilst the emphasis is predominantly spiritual we will also enjoy a few outings/excursions too, including a trip to the seaside town of Hastings! Please note that this is not an activity holiday!
Leading/hosting the week will be some familiar faces from previous retreats and holidays as well as a couple of new faces. We have Ros (Ros used to work with Through the Roof) and her new husband Keith; Ron and Ruth, and Linda and Malcolm, (all previous holiday helpers), and Jan, from Through the Roof.
Arrival and departure times:
Arrival date: Monday 6th September from 4 pm
Departure date Sunday 12th September 2 pm
Situated in the heart of 220 acres of beautiful English countryside, Ashburnham Place is the ideal spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and spend time with God. Idyllic, reminiscent of a stately home, it offers the essential retreat ingredients; God’s presence, seclusion, peace and tranquillity.
Guest bedrooms (shared twin with en-suite bathroom) are on the ground floor with step free access. Adaptations have been made to modernise the facilities-two of the rooms available to us are wheelchair accessible with wet rooms (suitable for those able to transfer to a standard bed - sadly, rooms are not suitable for the hiring of profiling beds). Most other rooms have an easy access shower with approximately 1 inch / 2.5 cm lip to avoid water escaping. Accessible Rooms will be allocated on a first come first served basis.
Accommodation is for board (including some refreshments)
Retreat costs: Guest £825
Guest Carer £425
We are unable to provide personal care. It is your responsibility to hire and directly pay for any mobility equipment. Outings/excursions will be extra.
You will receive a comprehensive form which needs to be completed as soon as possible; before we can confirm your place (spaces are limited). On confirmation a deposit of 50% will need to be paid – please do not send any money until you have received an invoice confirming your place. Please see the more information section to request an application form.
Through the Roof is unable to provide personal care. If personal care is required it is the responsibility of the guest to bring their own family member friend or employed carer. A discounted ‘guest’s carer’ rate will be payable.
Any hired items such as scooters, hoist or other aids must be organised and paid for directly by you before the retreat. Please remember rooms cannot accommodate profiling beds. If you don’t have your own contacts here’s a couple of companies we found online, although we haven’t tried them ourselves:
You will need to arrange your own travel to Ashburnham Place. The nearest fully accessible train station is Hastings. Taxis are available at the station and cost approximately £25-£30. Booking ahead is essential if an accessible vehicle is required. If you are able to manage stairs, then Battle station is the nearest to Ashburnham, however it is not always staffed. Travel insurance is also your responsibility.
Throughout the week, we will go on some outings / excursions, such as a trip to the seaside town of Hastings. Admission to attractions and venues e.g. Crazy Golf, the Bluereef Aquarium, the cliff-top cable-car ride, souvenirs, cream teas, ice creams and more, will be an extra expense payable separately. If you are a blue badge holder, it may be helpful to bring your bag with you.
There is not a Cash-point on site but both the bookshop and café accept card payments. Please ensure you have cards or cash to cover any purchases you may make.
Even though restrictions have been eased, we will be carefully monitoring the situation and taking all necessary steps to ensure that the retreat will be conducted in a covert secure manner, appropriate to the time of our visit, as well as encouraging the ongoing observance of precautions e.g. hand sanitising.
More information/contact us:
For more information or to request an application form you can contact us by
Email: Jan@throughtheroof.org or phone (01372) 749955
Jan Nicholson (retreat)
Through the Roof
Morden SM4 4TQ