We Are The Missionaries Of Africa
While the holiday season is officially over, as I write this letter to you, I cannot help but think about one of my favorite Christmas stories that is one of my favorites not only to watch on television, but to read as well. It’s the story that English author Charles Dickens wrote more than one hundred and fifty years ago. It’s called “A Christmas Carol.”
If you will recall, the story involves an old miser named Ebenezer Scrooge and how his life is changed forever when he realizes how much he has missed out on life by not caring for others. Central in the story, too, is a young handicapped child named Tiny Tim. As the story progresses, Scrooge finds out that it is only through his own kindness and caring that there is any hope that Tiny Tim will live and have a better life.
Thank God, in the United States and in many other developed countries -- the plight of handicapped poor children has changed greatly compared with the tragic times of Victorian England. But as I write this letter to you, there are places in Africa where being handicapped can make living a day to day challenge for survival.
Recently, I received a letter from Brother Trevor Robinson, one of our Missionary brothers who lives and works in Tamale, in the northern region of Ghana. Ghana is a small country in West Africa -- and while the people of Ghana continue to work hard to break the grip of poverty and disease that has plagued so many African nations, so many of those living there are still desperately poor.
“In the rural areas,” Brother Trevor writes, “nearly half of the people are extremely poor. Many of those in the region still do not have enough food to eat or water to drink. Daily living is a challenge -- and for those who have handicaps, every day is a challenge to survive.”
In answer to his call as a missionary of reaching out to those in need, Brother Trevor spends his time ministering to those who have handicaps which prevent them from walking. In 1992,
missionaries working in Tamale -- along with others in the community, created “The Wheelchair Project.” The program creates wheelchair tricycles so as to provide mobility and dignity for those who are disabled and cannot walk. recently, the project began creating artificial limbs and leg braces as well.
“Since we started,” Brother Trevor explains, “we have made over 1,200 wheelchair tricycles. They have been given to men, women and older children who are too poor to purchase like this for themselves. Some people offer us a little money if they have it -- but for the most part, those who are receiving them are too poor to pay anything at all.”
A wheelchair tricycle enables the person to sit in a wheelchair-type bike seat and move pedals with their hands, thus enabling them to have mobility. “The wheelchair tricycles allow people to have dignity,” Brother Trevor continues. “They can independently move about -- and do whatever must be done in order to meet the challenges which face them. It is a life-saver for so many who are so desperately poor.”
Since those who are receiving the wheelchair tricycles are too poor to purchase them, the project
will never be able to be self-sustaining. Brother Trevor must always be searching for money to help build more wheelchairs. That’s why he wrote to me -- and that is why I am writing to you.
It costs about $300 for Brother Trevor and to build one wheelchair tricycle for a handicapped person. That money is used for purchasing pipes, tires, for welding, paint, bicycle parts, seats and various other items used in the construction and assembly. This year, Brother Trevor hopes to build more than 100 wheelchair tricycles. My friend, I am hoping that we can raise at least $30,000 to provide handicapped people in Tamale, Ghana, with the wheelchair tricycles they need -- as well as help handicapped men, women and children in our other missions throughout Africa. Is there some amount you can send to help a desperately poor handicapped person living in rural Africa? Please know that any amount you can send will be a help and a blessing. Without a doubt, your kindness and caring will help a poor person have a better life!
Your Missionary Friend,
Denis P. Pringle
Director of Development