The trip to South Africa August 4-18 2014 was indeed a blessing. It was a sequel to the trip we did a year ago to volunteer in the vineyard of our Lord. We were able to see firsthand the secondary effects of the apartheid movement where poverty was alive and well in the Townships; it was a very depressing sight. However, hope burns eternally and so we were able to witness the wonderful work being done by the brothers and sisters who are helping the poor and needy through the method of “Touch and teach”. It was a great adventure to be sharing out food in the communities, providing therapeutic interventions for kids in schools and creches, and spreading the good news of the kingdom of God in some of the Bible Education Centers and ecclesias.
Within the context of all this, we found our niche which came in the form of a special-needs school called “Mason Lincoln for the handicapped”. The facility houses many children with severe deformities due to lack of early therapeutic interventions in some cases. The challenge on that trip was finding the appropriate equipment needed to help these children. So, in order to demonstrate therapeutic use of self, we adapted spoons, forks, wheelchairs and even made hand rolls (used to prevent contracture or further contractures of digits) from materials bought in the supermarkets. There was one other problem to solve: no location was allocated to provide therapeutic intervention to these students.
Eventually, we were able to locate a dusty, leaky room with no proper ventilation which we cleaned and set up whatever little equipment were at hand (a dirty/dusty mat and bolsters, one pair of parallel bars). After setting up the equipment, we were told that some interventions would be provided along with first-principle Bible studies for those interested. That ended the first phase of our mission (August 18 2013). A year later; we learned that the room was taken for regular classes due to space constraints. This was very disappointing. However, the brethren began a fund-raising effort and built a therapy Gym for Occupational Therapy Services.
Our mission call this year was to assess those children who were the most vulnerable. This was indeed a challenging process: an evaluation can take up to 2 months per child and we had to complete 45 evaluations in two weeks! We had the added challenge of adapting the assessment to the current population and having to have it translated into the Zulu language with a system in place to measure progress. So we did what any Christadelphian would do: we prayed for wisdom (James 1:5). Then we went back to Genesis 1:1 ”In the beginning God created” and used each of the six days of creation as a principle and inspiration for doing the work. God is good. The approximately 45 children were seen in 6 days. On the 7th day, we rested by taking a refreshing trip to the mountains. When the dust was settled, out of the 45 children [according to the latest update] approximately 35 are receiving services 3 times a week. An additional building was built for the physiotherapists to operate. The first-principle classes are ongoing and I have the challenge of writing Bible basics for special-needs children. “God is indeed good” and so the mission continues.
We are Occupational Therapists based in Queens N.Y. and attend the South Ozone Park Ecclesia. If you are interested in helping to see these children succeed, please donate to the Christadelphian Fraternal Inc.,125-03 133 RD, South Ozone Park, NY 11420. Sopecclesia@gmail.com.
Thanks and God Bless.
Tyrone and Carrol