Belize Expo Diary by Nanette Ryan

collage-2017-1-ale-blzAccess-Life Belize 2017, Day Six (Sat.):

On Saturday morning, we drove back to San Ignacio for the Expo. As we drove up, we saw that people had already started to arrive, several hours ahead of the announced start time. As we finished getting everything set up, more people came and by the 10:00 start time, we had a line of people waiting to get in, mostly to see if there was any equipment that we could give to them. We had lots of activities available for the participants, from painting to games and adaptive fitness to crafts and face painting. We also offered a prayer and care booth and a photo booth.

At the art booth, Beth, Carolyn and Sheila were able to help many children and adults to paint, some for the first time in their lives. Especially some of the adults were reluctant to paint, thinking that they were not creative or artistic. After they tried it, they found that it was very relaxing and that it was something that they could do. One man named Antonio came to the art booth in a power chair, unable to use his arms. His caregiver and Beth were able to assist him in writing his name and then painting “God is good” on the paper. He told Beth that this was the first time that he had been able to use his hand in over a year and it had given him hope. Another boy named Edwin, who had a shriveled hand, came to paint and his friend and Sheila were able to help him to paint. Afterward, they helped him to toss the football and when he was able to do it, they all did a “happy dance.”

Sharon, Mike and Jimmy enjoyed their time at the adaptive fitness booth, helping people learn to do ladder drills and use the battle ropes, and teaching them how they could do exercises at home. Jimmy and Mike were able to visit with a man who was a double amputee and a soldier who was wounded in Guyana. Both of the men they met were encouraged to meet some people who lived with disabilites and were able to be active. They also met Jalen and Jaden, twin brothers who were in power chairs. They were students at the college and were both excited that we had come to do the Expo there.

On the medical equipment side of the gym, John, Lisa, Ashley, Cindy, Helen, Janet, Dave, Rick, and Korie were kept busy throughout the Expo with trying to match people with equipment that would best meet their needs. It took a lot of adjustment and fitting to make things work for each person. Some who came were not able to get exactly what they wanted, but everyone got was was best for their situation and need. We also had a lot of equipment that had been donated that was very intensive and user-specific or needed a therapist to assist with it. God sent a man named Juan who is one of only four or five physical therapists in Belize. He is starting some therapy facilities and needed equipment to get it up and running. He plans to treat children free of charge and we were able to give him several pieces of equipment that he can use for therapy, as well as some mats and adaptive fitness equipment.

A large group of disabled people came from Belize City and they had to take taxis and a bus to get to San Ignacio, but God provided for them to get there and we were able to give all of them medical supplies and equipment that they could use. Other families brought children with cognitive disabilities who were able to enjoy the activities and get resources. Over 250 people attended the Expo (including volunteers), making it a larger turn out than the two previous years in Roaring Creek Village. All in all nearly 60 wheelchairs were given away as well as over 100 walkers, crutches, canes and gate trainers and countless bed pad, diapers, bath aides and other medical supplies. WHAT A GOD BLESSED DAY!

As many of the team expressed in our debriefing time, the interactions we had at the Expo and all week long were not always easy and the people we met lived in some difficult conditions and circumstances. Over and over again, we saw that people had a resilient and grateful spirit and were so appreciative that we had come to help them. We may never know the impact that we are having on others, but God is with us and with them and goes before us to prepare the way as we are obedient to Him.

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