What makes a person decide to step up and help someone far away?
Last week, I promised to tell you about my son-in-law’s recent experience.
Tim is based on the west coast and manages big projects in the corporate world. A year ago, Tim had a skiing accident that injured his knee and required major surgery. It left him struggling to get around. Then something else happened.
The story and photos Tim shared with our family are so moving that I asked him to tell you the story – his story – directly.
A GIFT OF MOBILITY
by Tim McCarthy
Recovering from a broken knee and the installation of three pins was not fun.
Then my uncle Jack McCarthy told me about CanUgan, a Canadian-based charity he supports.
Its mission is to provide medical assistance technologies to people with disabilities in the Kasese District of Uganda.
When I learned about the challenges faced by individuals with disabilities there and CanUgan’s focus on building local capacity, I felt compelled to support through fundraising. Months later, my uncle asked me to come with him to Uganda to see for myself.
In Uganda, Robert, a local board member in the Kasese district, told us about a 12-year old girl we would meet: Katisume Florence.
Four years prior, when she was just 8 years-old, Florence contracted fistula and lost the ability to walk. Her parents carried her short distances around the yard. She would also drag herself on the ground, sometimes in the mud.
What would a 12 year old who had undergone such adversity be like? Hardened? Broken? Sad? I didn’t know what to expect.
We arrived at Florence’s home early in the morning. Word quickly spread that “mzungus” (foreign visitors) had arrived with the deputy mayor, Peter. A crowd formed around him as he introduced us to the community and Florence.
One of Peter’s fellow board members brought a wheelchair, donated by our local partner organization, KADUPEDI, and presented it to Florence.
She was confused at first. Apparently she had no expectation that she’d ever receive a wheelchair even when it was 20 feet away from her. She approached the chair hesitantly. Peter quickly instructed her on how to pull herself up. She nodded, gave it a moment’s consideration then pulled herself up into the seat.
She smiled. Peter tapped the side-bars on the tires and reminded her to use them to propel the chair forward and backward. Her smile grew and she started rolling, picking up some decent speed before stopping about 20 feet later.
She received some instruction on turning, and she turned herself around. She sped back towards us and went 20 feet in the other direction before turning around again. As she made her way back to us is when I took the picture.
At the time, I was inspired by her courage, determination and sheer joy at being able to move independently.
It was days later, when reviewing the picture, that I noticed the terrible sores on her knees. It was only then that I really stopped to think about how painful and miserable the last four years’ struggle must have been for this child and her family.
I was inspired and humbled.
Tim has a strong social conscience, but as you can tell, his experience in Kasese was profound. He has raised $3,000 in donations for CanUgan’s 2019 operating year. Such donations help provide individuals with items from hearing aids to wheelchairs.