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The Matatu Connection

20 Apr

New in 2018: Heaven’s Family’s Blog Updates are now only lightly edited so that Ministry Directors can communicate with you in a more personal way. We hope you’ll enjoy this more intimate approach.

Daisy and Pauline, two young beneficiaries of the Disabilities Ministry in Kenya
At left, Daisy benefitted from a surgery for shunt placement due to hydrocephaly. She now can get around like any 4 year old, eats, speaks and loves playing with the kids in her village. Prior to her surgery she could not hold her head up. (As she grows her head will be more proportionate to her body). At far right is Pauline, 19, and her mum. Pauline attends a school for special education, for she suffers from disabilities related to polio as well as mental retardation. She loves school and is able to interact with peers (we don’t normally like to separate children from parents, but she was shunned and isolated in her village. We are working to change this, but it takes time to shift cultural paradigms). Mom is now able to spend time in the field attending her crops without having to worry about Pauline “getting into things she shouldn’t.”

The Matatu Connection

Carmen’s 2nd blog from East Africa

Dear Family,

Travel throughout Kenya has been fantastic (although my luggage was temporarily lost, requiring an extra day in Nairobi until it caught up with me). This afforded the opportunity to check in with Gideon, 20, who attends a technical school in Nairobi. The delay also precipitated the need for a 9-hour ride across Western Kenya in a “matatu”. A matatu is a small van, designed to seat 7, but crammed with 12 seats. It’s not fast, but it is very inexpensive, offering a wonderful opportunity to partake of the sites, sounds and smells of the region (no A/C so I contributed to the aroma).

Carmen Parise with Gideon in front of Karen Technical school for the Deaf in Nairobi
Gideon, unable to hear or speak, is a bright guy learning construction and building trades at Karen Technical school for the Deaf in Nairobi. He was raised by a single mom in a rural village. He has a sister who is mentally challenged. Gideon and his mother are extremely happy for the opportunity provided by the Disabilities Ministry to further his education. He wants to be able to take care of his mother and sister after completing the 2-year program.

First stop—Bungoma, a county in Western Kenya close to the Ugandan border with a population just shy of 1.5 million and almost the size of the state of Delaware. That means people are very spread out. In this area John Opar is the front man on the ground for Heaven’s Family’s Disabilities Ministry. John is one semester shy of earning his Masters in Medical Social Work, employed by the county to oversee the disabilities cases; actually an oxymoron in that almost no services for the disabled exist anywhere in Kenya. The method of operation is to complete a census, offer ID cards and hope for the best. That is where the Disabilities Ministry steps in to offer hope, assistance and the gospel message of Jesus to many disabled individuals isolated, shunned and considered cursed. John’s knowledge, assessment ability and desire to reach every case is relentless (he is 20 years my junior, so that helps!). His record keeping and analyses are impeccable; I am very appreciative of his dedication.

It is never easy traversing the roads to the villages—at the moment it is treacherous. Little did I realize when planning my trip that April is the rainy season. It is a blessing to have the rain, however this year I am told it is particularly bad in regard to flooding and water-logged fields. We spend about 10 hours a day visiting cases. Some we have been assisting, while others are individuals waiting to be evaluated. My heart breaks with each visit. So many suffer from difficulties that are relatively easy to overcome in more developed nations—enrolling a child in a school for special education, acquiring a wheelchair, a simply surgery. As we go from case to case we evaluate, prioritize and implement. We look for how things can be improved, and what’s not cutting it.

It is only through your continued generosity that the Disabilities Ministry can continue assisting the “least of these” while advancing the kingdom of Jesus Christ. I thank you so much to many of you for your continued support and dedication in obedience to Mathew 25:45!

Because of Him,

Carmen Parise
Director, Disabilities Ministry

Below, meet Peter Wangila, 47. Peter is extremely appreciative of the hand-peddled wheelchair he received from the Disabilities Ministry. He is a father of 5 and he needs a new house. We can meet that need for a little over $2,000. If you are interested in helping, you can learn more here.

Picture of Peter in front of deteriorating house

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