ILS Manager Visit to Brazil

As a family this year, we decided to take up a longstanding offer from a couple we know who are pastors of a church in Brazil.  It is a small church with a big heart and although they have few resources themselves, they have sought for the past 3 years to reach out to those in need within their community, but especially a nearby neighbourhood call Gloria Favela.

As a wheelchair user, before we went, I asked if people within their neighbourhood have any difficulty accessing wheelchair provision and quickly learned this was a big problem.  As a small effort, to try to help maybe 2 or 3 other people who have mobility difficulties, a friend held a small fundraising event and a CILNI colleague donated a good second hand wheelchair.  Despite my unbelief, my husband and son managed to dismantle this wheelchair and fit it into our cases.  At the same time, I had emailed an organisation called Wheels for the World.  To my shock and delight, a few days later (7 days before we were due to set off), the Manager emailed me to say they could send out a container of 130 refurbished wheelchairs, along with 5 therapists and 5 technicians to ensure people got the right wheelchairs to meet their needs.  Not only that, but he also offered facilitators to train church leaders on the biblical principles behind inclusion and empowerment of disabled people within their communities.

When we arrived in Brazil, we explained this offer to our hosts and we were delighted and humbled to find, over the course of our visit, that the whole church was prepared to facilitate both the wheelchair distribution and the leadership training seminars.   Our hosts also set up meetings with 2 disability organisations EDEF and APARU.  APARU was set up over 30 years ago as a CIL.  Over the years their service delivery changed and whilst they are no longer called the CIL,  they still operate based on principles and the Independent Living philosophy.  Again, both of these organisations agreed to be part of the network to enable the wheelchair distribution to be a success.

My family agree, this was the best holiday we had ever been on, with too many elements to mention that made this the trip of our lives.  We are continuing to follow the ongoing development of these projects.  The leadership seminars are planned for summer 2020 and the wheelchair distribution the following year.