“Are not 5 sparrows sold for 2 copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered….you are of more value than many sparrows”. Luke 12:7
These words of Jesus echoing down 2000 years, seemed never more significant than when we observed the laughter of 9 year old Thomas as he sat in a wheelchair for the first time in his life, joining in the songs and celebrations of the gathered families around him.
His mother’s story, through freely flowing tears, told of the pain and faith that accompanies the birth and life of a disabled child in the poorest of homes in Ethiopia. Her surprise at finally receiving a miraculous answer to her prayers was no less than if the lad had got up and walked for the first time. Her heartfelt thankfulness, expressed in simple faith and glory to God filled each of us with a sense of awe and gave us a moment in our lives that will be treasured forever.
Thomas (not his real name) is the 4th of his mum’s children and they attend the Family Centre where our Partners work with the local church in Ethiopia.
In a few years much has been achieved there and the continual process of development helps vulnerable families to get on the pathway to independent living. Unemployed mothers receive training and grants for small businesses and families with HIV/Aids strengthen and protect their babies and increase their opportunity for a long and healthy life.
A new initiative is a regular Family Fun Day when dads are also starting to come along and benefit from the family support, nurture and training on offer. It was at the first of those days that I met Thomas and his mum. They were sitting on the ground in a corner on the edge of the proceedings. He has brain injury and his mum was very surprised when I wanted to carry him to join in with the children’s fun, as best he could. There I learned that she had been carrying him alone for all those years and although quite a young woman, as he grew she became more and more frail and exhausted, often falling over with him in the street as his palsy rocked them both off balance.
Several people in a number of countries were involved in getting Thomas and his family the nearly new wheelchair. Together all those actions, some apparently insignificant at the time, empowered such a small sparrow to be seated like a king amongst his brothers and community.
Where he was completely unseen before, his vibrant smile and gentle arms now reach out to all who pass by. His mum even tells us that he is fiercely protective of HIS wheelchair and gets angry if his brothers touch it! The little sparrow has found his springtime song, and we are SO grateful he has!
Above:: Arriving at the Family Centre in his usual manner.
Left:: Ready to go home to his new perception of the world, observed by other interested children.
Thanks to all PovertySwap friends, our wonderful Partners in Ethiopia; the marvelllous compassion and generosity of Cumbria Mobility, Carlisle; fast practical action of Children Aid Now (Sweden) and all the people along the way who made this wonderful outcome happen.
Below: The world’s best job, Helen Faulds,Founding Director PovertySwap