As I wrote in my last posting, I’ve been doing more secretarial stuff than communication systems at the wheelchair distributions recently. As I reflect on these past few distributions, I see how God is using this to develop my ministry.
Sometimes a “quick hit” is all that’s needed. Handing out a communication board and showing the child and the parent how to use it is all that’s required. This was the case with Yeny, a beautiful 17 year old I met recently. She could not speak, but could answer yes/no questions. This left her mother playing 20 Questions each time Yeny wanted something. After talking with Mom and Yeny, I was able to put together a simple board which she could use to indicated her most frequent needs and wants. She was so excited to have this, we could hardly get her to put it down to be fitted for her chair.
Other days, God uses my “busy-ness” at the distributions to set the stage of on-going relationships with our clients. If I can’t construct a board immediately, I have been taking contact information and will be visiting these folks in their homes to set up their systems.
This is the case with Sara, a 36 year old young woman who had come in to receive her first wheelchair. She is bright and intelligent, and I soon realized I could print out a simple board, but that would not really meet her needs. (It would be something like putting wheels on a kitchen chair and calling it a wheelchair—it might help, but it might cause more problems and frustrations than the person already had.) Sara has so much she wants to communicate, including abstract concepts such as feelings, that I think she needs a more sophisticated system than most clients receive. So, within the next month, I hope to travel to Guatemala City to visit her and her family in their home. Sarah’s brother could not give me their address fast enough when I suggested this. He couldn’t believe someone would be willing to come to them.
I was delighted to see Angel Noe at one of our recent distributions. A few months ago, his mother had shown up at my door, saying she had heard there was a woman in this house who could help get wheelchairs for people. We visited for quite a while that day, as she told me about Angel, her four year old who could not walk. Apparently, Angel had had a high fever and convulsions when he was an infant, and this has interfered with his physical development. His mental abilities do not seen to be affected; for a four year old he is sharp as a tack.
This family lives in Ciudad Vieja, a very poor community just outside Antigua. Mom said she knows others in her area who need wheelchairs or special education, and I plan to visit her soon, not only to bring Angel a communication booklet, but assess what we can do to help the others in her area.
I met Elisandro when I went over to meet this “little one” I saw with his mother, only to discover this child was thirteen years old. He looks extremely malnourished and quite fragile. But, Mom says he has always been very tiny, and she has managed to keep him alive and apparently fairly healthy in spite of his weakness. I don’t know what, if anything, we can do to help this family. The rest of the family appears to have adequate food and does not appear underweight. We will, however, be keeping in touch with them to see how Elisandro and the rest of the family fares in the future.