Thanks to the generosity of our churches, partners, and friends we were able to purchase custom made handicap bicycles for three precious women, all mothers of Sunday school children at HEAL Africa. Two of these lost their wheelchairs during the recent volcanic eruption, and one never dreamed of having something so precious as a wheelchair. Here are their stories which they readily shared:
Salima, age 30, was a healthy baby at birth but became crippled after receiving an unknown vaccine at age 1. She grew up in the mountains of South Kivu Province until rebels attacked their village and her family fled carrying young Salima on their back, leaving behind their home and livliehood. They eventually ended up as refugees in Goma.
Today Salima has 4 children of her own. During the devastating volcanic eruption of Mt. Nyiragongo in May of this year she again lost all she had, including her wheelchair. She was delighted to have it replaced by a handicapped bicycle allowing her to do so much more!
Grace, 22, and her 2 children, 7-month-old Graciela and 3-year-old Gradie, live in an impoverished rocky hill above the congested port of Goma. At the age of 8 months, she developed polio and was left crippled. She walks with great difficulty with metal leg braces that she has outgrown and handmade heavy crutches. I met her just before the volcanic eruption when she shared her dream of one day having a way to get around.
Grace has a wonderful smile, and a positive outlook, despite her situation. I wish you could have been there to see her sheer delight when she received her own mobile bicycle!
Nyirandezimana is 37. When she was 7, her leg became swollen without apparent cause. She went from hospital to hospital depleting all her family’s resources. Doctors could not find the cause and eventually, fearing it could be cancer, amputated her leg mid-thigh.
Today she is a single mother with 7 children. Her husband was shot and killed near their home, likely by thieves.
When fleeing the eruption of Mt. Nyiragongo, her wheelchair was stolen. She never imagined it would be replaced by something this nice!
Sharing the love of Christ is such a privilege. I wish every one of you could have been with us to see the joyous expectation on the faces of these three women when they arrived at the Handicap Center.
As we continue to touch lives and address needs following the eruption of Mt. Nyiragongo and the subsequent turmoils, we praise God for His goodness! We also thank you for making this possible… through your gifts and your prayers.