Wheels in Kerala, India 2023 – Blog 2 & 3

Wheels in Kerala, India 2023 – Blog 2 & 3

An Indian couple -- a man is sat in his new wheelchair, with a Bible on his lap, and a woman is standing next to him

Day 2 – 17th March 2023

The Wheels for the World team are hard at work in Kerala, India until the 25th March, changing lives through the free gift of a wheelchair or other mobility aid. Here, Peter, a member of the team, tells us about the 2nd and 3rd days of the trip...
After our first day of meet, greet and eat….

It was with a touch of enthusiasm and pride that, after breakfast, we took the later arrivers from the day before to see the carefully sorted and positioned wheelchairs, the other mobility aids, tools etc. and the patient treatment areas.

Then it was time for a tour around the rest of the hospital which, everyone agreed, was far bigger that any of us had imagined, and meet more of the delightful and clearly very hard working staff. We of course attracted a lot of curious attention along the way – it is probably not often that a group of westerners like us are seen in a rural region like Kerala.

From there DR C V and his staff took us to the central office of his Sathyam Ministries, an imposing and impressive building with a huge collection of Christian books and other items that they sell to raise funds for their work.

We were so warmly welcomed by the staff and thoroughly enjoyed their fellowship, songs, devotions and prayers for the success of our mission. Before long though we were on our way to one of the ministries many activities – The Satayam Disability Centre, also named Justins House after Dr C V’s disabled son who accompanied us almost everywhere we went throughout the trip.

It was an extremely moving and emotional experience for us all, greeting the mostly young residents, having them play music, sing and dance for us and they joined in enthusiastically when Martyn taught them and then led us all in a sign language song.

After spending time with them, including in their classroom, we said our goodbyes and were treated to a most wonderful meal at Dr C V’s home cooked by his devoted wife, Mary. His home is impressive in many ways, not the least of which was the HUGE collection of old Bibles and other Christian books that were on several shelves high, floor to ceiling, along the entire width at the front of the large house. There would definitely be older ones we think but one we found was dated January 1869.

Yet there was still more to come because it had been arranged for us to visit a nearby local charity, Bodhana which, after a presentation by it’s leader, was a remarkable small organisation that, through several initiatives, were supporting over 10,000 poor people every year. Their activities included providing housing, funding children’s education and partnering with around 1,000 bee-keepers to produce their own honey to help raise funds – a truly wonderful micro business.

As we journeyed back to our hotel for our evening meal and reflected on our experiences, the feeling and consensus among the group can be summarised as simply “What a Day!

Day 3 – 18th March 2023

Our first day of distribution at Pushpagiri Hospital was, understandably, somewhat daunting but, for the team, also brim full of anticipation and hope for the help we were well equipped to provide local disabled people.

Indeed it turned out to be a day high in emotions – as every day we spent here was destined to be – with some patients circumstances heartbreaking, others so uplifting because we knew in our hearts that these peoples' lives, and that of their families, were being changed for the better.

We served people who were deformed from birth, others whose lives had been affected by strokes, several children and their loving families living severely compromised lives due to cerebral palsy. There were also others with varying degrees of paraplegia caused by tragic accidents and a woman who had been stabbed in a random attack and whose spinal cord had been damaged….and more. High in emotion indeed.

What was equally emotional though was the extent of the gratitude and appreciation expressed by both the individuals we served and their families. As our therapists worked to provide the best possible equipment for each patients need and circumstances they engaged both the patient and their families in constant conversation. Without exception, we could see spirits rise at the prospect of often significant improvement in mobility and independence for both patient and family members wherever that was achievable.

The warmth and gratitude we experienced was the perfect antidote for our weariness as the day turned into evening and it must be said that our many successes would not have been possible without the outstanding support of the excellent hospital doctors, medical staff and trainees / interns who were by our side all day as interpreters as well as sharing thoughts and ideas to help achieve the best solution each time.

Importantly we were also given all the sustenance one needs in the hot and humid conditions of India with an abundance of refreshments, regular snacks and a delicious lunch.

Another most memorable day and, after a hearty dinner and the teams debrief of the day we all happily retreated to our rooms and the sleep we all needed ready to do it all again the next day.