It was a God sort of incident, as I’m sat next to Kelly Bennett, my friend and executive of PR Unlimited in her flashy red sports car as we travelled to another speaking engagement , when I sensed that I had to ask Kelly a question. “Have you ever heard of a lady called Joni Erickson Tarda”? I asked. She turned from her driving to look at me. “Why do you ask”? “Well, l have just been given a sense that I have to meet with her.” “ Very strange that you should ask me that replied” Kelly as I interviewed her on the red carpet at the Oscars a couple of weeks ago”. “ Do you think you can make me an appointment to meet with her”, I ask. “I’ll see what I can arrange” replied Kelly and that was the start of an amazing God connection. I met with Joni who is a paraplegic and has lived in a wheelchair for 48 years after she broke her neck in a diving incident when she was 19 years of age and has been such an inspiration to other disabled people all over the world with her organization called Joni and friends. After a lengthy chat Joni asked me how she could help the many disabled children that Light in Africa cares for on a daily basis. “Wheelchairs” I quickly reply without missing a beat. “We are really desperate for children’s wheelchairs”. And from that interview I was able to attend in February of this year the Global Conference on Disability held in CA and this week receive a team from Joni and friends who blessed us with eight children’s wheelchairs and we bussed all of our staff and children into Tudor Village for a day of eye examinations which was a real blessing as some of our children who are albino’s have really been struggling with their eyesight problems at school and Dr. Woody the Optometrist and Karen his assistant was able to provide exactly the glasses that they would required which increased their vision enormously. We were also very blessed to receive Dana Croxton whom Joni had asked personally if he would come over for just four days to construct the wheelchairs. One of the chairs which was especially adapted for Maria who had out-grown her chair was put together by some prisoners who had a photo of her size which I had posted and they had written Maria’s name for her on the back of her chair which I thought was very sweet of them, so Dana is going to send them some pictures of Maria’s excitement of receiving her new wheelchair.
This short story and its conclusion shows just how amazing our God is when just by planting a sense or impression upon me and by my following through with what was asked of me, hundreds of children and adults have been touched and blessed. We give God all the Glory that he loves us all so much and that His timing and planning is just so perfect.
SUMMER IS HERE AND THE VOLUNTEERS ARE ARRIVING TO HELP US IN OUR WORK OF CARING FOR THE HUNDREDS OF CHILDREN IN THE CARE OF LIGHT IN AFRICA.
For the last six years we have been blessed with some amazing young students along with their teachers arriving from a private school in the UK. Canford School in Dorset has contributed considerably to the growth of Tudor Village the homes for over 100 girls. From building our administration block to partnering in a joint effort to build “Rosemary” house one of our children’s homes, to erecting water tanks to this year painting throughout ‘Happy House’ which is the home for our ‘toddlers. After that effort, harvesting our crop of beans and helping to pot more lavender cuttings in our Butterfly and Lavender Farm, every other job was ‘easy peasy’.
Two out-reach community medical dispensaries were held which provided ‘free’ treatment and drugs to well over two hundred patients and providing the luxury of meat for the children at our daily food kitchen. Whilst at the Food Kitchen we were brought two disabled children each with their own sad story to tell. Andrew a little down syndrome baby had been repeatedly taken to the witchdoctor by his mother who was paying the WD to make her son “normal”. In the end the WD told the mother after the child has been circumcised he will look like any normal child, when that didn’t happen the mother was ready to abandon the child. The mother also demanded that the baby’s clothes be taken off the baby’s back so that the child could be taken naked into our care. This comment by the mother provoked some scathing comments from me, you can be assured of that! The second child we brought back with us was a 12 old boy with cerebral palsy whose father said the reason his son was blind in one eye was due to the fontanel slipping into his eye and making him blind, and if we didn’t take him today he was going to walk into the bush and leave the child there as he could no longer work and look after the child as he had no food to feed him. What an experience for these young students to witness and to be a part of. They were interested to see the process of admitting these two children into Light in Africa’s care by the leaders of the community who requested us to take the children to a place of safety for fear that something should happen to them if they were left with their parent.
These young people from 16 – 18 years interacted so well with our children giving time to listen to our children read, organizing a sport’s day to entertaining our children to a concert followed by a ‘hot dog’ bun, juice and biscuits, what joyful days we have had. Our boys at Pilgrim House will especially miss the impromptu football matches which they thoroughly enjoyed with the student. Staff and children of LIA would like to give our very best wishes to teacher kaka Richard who is retiring from Canford School on his return to the UK and we hope he and his wife will enjoy a happy, creative life together and to kaka Will who is travelling for a month to Uganda, and Kenya. Enjoy the adventure of meeting new people with different cultures.
Laura and Harold, two students from Cornell University, USA are with us for a month and Harold on his first day with us quickly learnt a new skill, that of chair upholstering. So many of our chairs had seen better days and as we had 40 volunteers and guests on site we had to make use of our dilapidated chairs and recover them all. Harold proved more than proficient at covering the large amount of chairs that we stacked up for him. Thank you Harold and Laura for all that you have achieved.
Annette from Ireland has deemed to co-ordinate many of our out-reach activities over the next eleven weeks that she is with us, and along with Dr. Jenny Whitehead there project was to re-vamp our playground, especially the ‘toddlers’ area with the swing boats.
We unexpectedly received two visitors from Australia, Lesley and Gay who most generously purchased school equipment for many of our children. Thank you both for your skills and your prayer sessions with our children it was so warmly received.
It was a difficult choice to make when all of our older girls from Tudor Village wanted to be chosen to go and meet our friend Jessica with her new husband David when they arrived at Kilimanjaro Airport, the excitement was intense. In the end we agreed one girl from each house could welcome the couple with neck garlands and singing on their exit from the arrival lounge. It is always very special for us to welcome returning volunteers and Jessica is no exception having visited with us in 2006. We wish them all of God’s blessings in abundance for their future life together. Katherine Lodge is another returning volunteer from the days before we moved to Tudor Village you are all so very special to our family. Thank you for not forgetting about our children.
Margaret and Clare has re-visited with us again. Clare had previously visited with us when she was a student and her brother William followed her the next year, then mum came along and now Clare has brought her friend to experience the hospitality of our home and they both ‘dared’ to go on our Maasai Survival Expedition through Torchbearer our sister organization..
The photo’s that have surfaced show them learning new skills which they had never thought they could possibly do and a new camaraderie and understanding of the maasai culture.