25/07/2012 03:33

Wheelchair for Joyce, and hope for many!

By Fr John Glynn – WeCare! Foundation - Port Moresby. Wheelchairs at last! After almost a year of waiting promised donations we decided to wait no longer but to buy the chairs we needed. There was a long wait before we could do this too - the chairs have to be imported. At last we have been able to buy four wheelchairs - one large for a young man in his twenties, and three smaller ones for children. They cost us over $3,000. The money is from a donation we received last Christmas from the Shepherd family - Greg Shepherd is a prominent lawyer here in Port Moresby. Then in early August we will take delivery of four more wheelchairs being donated to us by a friend of WeCARe! in Australia. And thanks to a kind donation from MN in Ireland more great things shall be done!

In the settlement where Lovely lives we have ten young people who are seriously disabled. They are looked after by their poverty stricken families, and by a Care Group that is supported by WeCARe! Already one of the Carers we support has trained in simple physiotherapy techniques, and we are arranging for the same training for a woman from Lovely’s Care Group. She will work under the supervision of a trained physio from Cheshire Disability Services, a long established voluntary organisation here in Port Moresby.

In my last Newsletter I told you about Joyce - a very badly disabled young woman kept locked away in total darkness in a little hut while her parents are at the market each day. Well, it seems that our visit to Joyce – smashing the lock on the door of her hut to get her out, and filming our meeting with her - has had a profound effect on the father. He does not lock Joyce in anymore; he doesn’t want us to pay for the lock, and he allows Joyce’s mum to stay home and look after her. One of the wheelchairs we are getting from Australia is for Joyce. It will enable her to be wheeled down the street to a Care Group every day, where she will be looked after, fed, washed, given nice clothing, get a bit of schooling, and enjoy the company of the children and young people at the Care Group. The Care Mother of the Group has already done a course in looking after disabled children at Cheshire Disability Services.

The Work that We Do in WeCARe! is enormously rewarding. It has the effect of inspiring the communities in which there is a Care Group. These are people who virtually never see any services from Government agencies, who for many reasons cannot put their children into school, for whom there is no support for their physically or mentally disabled children and relatives. When a little Care Group starts up in someone’s back yard, and soon there is a small pre-school operating, and hungry children are getting fed – people take notice. The visits to the Care Groups by our Care Group Coordinator - Sandra - are always appreciated, because she arranges for training programmes for Carers and their assistants, and opens the door to all sorts of other possibilities. WeCARe! acts as a catalyst - because of us things happen; other NGOs become involved, like Cheshire visiting the disabled, and World Vision has become involved with a couple of our Groups. And as the little pre-schools grow and attract the support of the community the Digicel Foundation comes into the picture with Community Learning Centres and other infrastructure.

The only ultimate solution to the problems of poverty is the empowerment of the poor, and I like to think that We-CARe! is playing an important role in doing this. (CBC Communications 240712 – giorgiolicini@yahoo.com)