While every day of our week in Belize is spent on worthwhile activities, the culmination is the Expo Day on Saturday, when we welcome people to come and enjoy activities and we distribute wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes and other medical supplies that are donated and shipped from the U.S. This year on Saturday we woke up to a rain storm that continued throughout the set-up As the participants started to arrive before the Expo began, we helped them to a covered area to wait.
Once the Expo got underway, the rain stopped and things started to dry out. Many people came to the Expo carried in the arms of care-givers and volunteers who helped to get them to the seating area. Others left their homes at 3:00 in the morning and traveled many miles to attend the Expo. To see the joy on their faces once they received a wheelchair or walked to help them be more mobile was a priceless gift no matter how many times it occurred.
We also provided games, crafts, art and prayer/care stations for participants to enjoy while they waited to receive medical equipment.
Two young girls, both with physical disabilities, and are best friends came with their mothers. As each girl was fitted with a power chair, their faces lit up as they realized that their friend was getting a chair too! Receiving a chair changed their outlook on life and will impact their ability to gain independence as they grow up. One of the moms commented that now she could let her daughter go to the store and to school on her own. Parents of children with disabilities can have a lighter burden.
Twin brothers in their early twenties who have Cerebral Palsy also came to the Expo and were fitted with power chairs to replace manual chairs that no longer fit their bodies. Their mother shared that her sons attend university and one of the boys will be graduating with his Associates degree in Information Technology in the Spring.
One of the ways that volunteers touch lives on Expo Day is at the Prayer and Care tent. Participants usually come to the tent and are able to share prayer requests and receive prayer, as well as other activities like having their nails done. This year, some of the volunteers saw that participants were unable to come to the tent or didn’t want to miss hearing their name being called when it was their turn to get fitted for medical equipment. The volunteers decided to go to the people and offer a listening ear and prayer and many requests and praises were shared.
At the end of Expo Day, we were able to distribute 63 wheelchairs and counted 235 participants and volunteers who came to the event.
In the team share time on Sunday morning, one team member said that seeing people come in being carried and then leave rejoicing reminded her of her own challenges and used the analogy of climbing a mountain and finally reaching the top to see the beautiful view. It is the heart of Access-Life to be able to lift the burden and remove the barriers for people and to help them to come to Jesus (Luke 5:17-21).