December 2015 Newsletter
A Shocking Discovery
by Ron Rice
On Friday, Nov 6, one week before I was scheduled to fly back to Seattle at the end of my 22nd trip to Nigeria, Ayuba and I paid a visit to the Plateau State School for the Deaf. In the 16 years we have been building wheelchairs, we had never visited this school or done anything for the deaf. But several months earlier a pastor had requested some wheelchairs and hearing aids, so I went on eBay and found some $10 behind-the-ear rechargeable hearing aids from China. One package came the day before I left. The purpose of our visit was to test out the hearing aids and see if they might help any of the deaf students.
We were absolutely shocked at what we found: 430 students, from age 3 to high school seniors, living in the most abject poverty and the worst case of government neglect we had ever seen.
We learned they had not had electricity for 7 years. When you are deaf, the only way to communicate is by sign language, but you can't sign in the dark! Close to the equator, it gets dark very quickly when the sun goes down. There are 11 hours of pitch darkness in Nigeria. The only thing these kids can do is go to bed at 6:30 or 7:00.
We called the wonderful electrical contractor who had done all the extensive electrical work on our new shop. The next day he surveyed the school and on Monday gave us the $11,775 cost to install a 13 Kva diesel generator in the existing powerhouse, install lights in the 4 hostels and outside, run power to pump water up into the high water tank, and install a large 49" TV in each of the 4 hostels.
Miraculously I was able to transfer the funds from the wheelchair account in Seattle in 24 hours which usually takes 2 or 3 business days. On Wednesday we paid another visit and saw their meager dinner, a scoop of a porridge made from maize (corn) and a ladle of green "soup" made from the leaves of the baobab tree. No protein, no vegetables or fruit, no milk or meat. For breakfast it's a kind of custard made from maize. Usually no lunch. The PTA provides the food since the state has not paid for food for 3 years.
Friday morning all was ready for the dedication. The regional TV station, 2 radio stations and a newspaper reporter were present. Speeches and prayers were given, the national anthem "signed," the student choir signed two songs, Ayuba cut the ribbon, the generator was started and students and staff danced and celebrated.
We also brought 1,100 lbs. of beans for some protein, and 15 soccer balls. I told the agricultural teacher we would pay for 100 fruit trees to plant, 25 goats and some rabbits for the students to care for, for future protein and fruit.
The generator will run from 7:00 to 10:00 each evening. I told the staff to limit the TV to one hour a day, two hours on weekends. They are watching the national news from 9-10 and the staff are signing — their first and only exposure to the outside world.
We left for the airport that afternoon, thanking God for all the generous supporters of the wheelchair fund, who made it possible in one miraculous week (!) to help these 430 kids who live in such a silent, isolated world.
800 Miles, 100 Checkpoints
Ayuba and I took a 4 day, 800 mile trip to deliver wheelchairs at 5 presentations in Taraba, Benue and Nasarawa States. We were stopped at over 100 police and army checkpoints, which combined with bad roads and a primitive ferry across the wide Benue River, makes for slow going!
Sunday morning, Nov 1, we gave out 15 wheelchairs at a church in Mutum Biyu, Taraba. I was honored to preach and Ayuba translated. Monday morning we presented 25 wheelchairs at the Gboko Local Government (LGA). The officials at our afternoon presentation at the Ushongo LGA had done nothing to gather the beneficiaries. (In fact they have now cancelled 4 presentations. Unfortunately the disabled are not a high priority for some government officials.) We continued on to the wonderful School for Exceptional Children run by the Guder West LGA which we had never visited before. We gave 23 folding white canes to the blind students and 5 portable typewriters.
Tuesday morning we found the Doma LGA headquarters blocked by protestors, government workers who had not been paid for 4 months. (The next week we drove the 4 hours back to Doma and had a wonderful presentation of 25 wheelchairs.) Our last presentation was at the Lafia LGA, with another 25 wheelchairs.
Watch the video of the 2015 trip, and please consider an end-of-the-year gift - where in the world can you transform a life for $150?
Please help these polio survivors with a gift to Wheelchairs for Nigeria
Send your tax-deductible gift to Wheelchairs for Nigeria, 1542 Palm Ave SW. Seattle, WA 98116 or give online. Please consider an automatic monthly gift, as some of our supporters do, through bill pay at your bank or PayPal.
$150 transforms a life!