It happened during lunch. This May our Disability Care ministry in Malawi was hosting a speech and language training led by visiting volunteers Kara and Rebecca. Suddenly, three children started coughing. That might not seem like a big deal at first, but, “If you don’t have a base of medical knowledge, you may not know that coughing means a child could be choking on food,” explained Kara. “It could be going down into their lungs.”
“Hello Kim-Sensei! I’ve been waiting to meet you!”
These were the first words nine-year-old Arashi said to me in person. After waiting two years to move to Japan, these words and getting to meet Arashi were truly a blessing.
By the time Tabia was born, the damage to her brother Kennedy’s body was permanent. At just three years old, he contracted polio and lost the use of his legs. Polio vaccines weren’t widely available in Malawi where Kennedy and Tabia were born in the 1960’s. This left children like Kennedy susceptible to the devastating neurological effects of the virus, and the social prejudices that existed against people with disabilities.
February is often associated with cold temperatures and Valentine's Day. But another special event happens worldwide in February that you might not know about. Night to Shine is a prom event for teenagers with special needs that takes place every year on the Friday before Valentine's Day. It was started by the Tim Tebow Foundation in 2015. Since then, it has grown to become a global event that each year celebrates over 100,000 people who live with special needs.
It all began with a conversation.
A young boy with disabilities was living nearby, and he and his family desperately needed care. When disability ministry volunteers arrived, they met little White and his mother Olivia. Olivia was stretched thin caring for her six children, and the whole family was malnourished.
White could barely sit up by himself, let alone walk. His stomach was distended and his hair was the distinctive rusty color of malnourished children. Volunteers knew they could offer physical aid but realized that a deeper level of care was also needed.