Day Six

Rachel Esterhuyse | March 9, 2012 | Comment

Tonight we got to speak with Shannon about the Special Education site.  Every day she has gone to the Genesis School which consists of five classrooms. The classes are broken up by mental capabilities, not by age. The age range of the students is 6-18. Some kids that attend are sponsored, some families need to pay a minimum amount or some work at the school in exchange. Since this is a special education school and many that attend will have walkers or wheelchairs, there is a bus that picks up within a certain radius. This school is not funded by the government. It is able to stay standing by donations that are given and by Students International. The kids’ conditions include Downes Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy as well as learning and emotional/behavioral disabilities. Shannon had the option of helping the kids with motor skills, math or reading and writing. She worked in motor skills the first day and went to each room doing the same activity.  School ends at 2:30, giving the opportunity for the team to do home visits. One thing that Students International tries to do is visit these students after they turn 18 and can no longer attend the school. One visit really touched Shannon’s heart….

Melvin has a type of Cerebral Palsy known as severe spastic Cerebral Palsy. He is in a wheelchair and has no motor control, especially if he gets excited. As a result, he is extremely rough on his wheel chair. When he is calm, he can move in some directions. He can talk a bit but it takes a long time to learn to understand him. Although, he can’t really talk, he is extremely intelligent and was able to write lyrics to several praise and worship songs.  When he showed that to the people from Students International, a person stepped in and wrote the music to accompany his beautiful words. It is sold here at the base and is a true testimony on what can happen to a life devoted to the Lord. This became a way for him to contribute to his family financially and to be a member of his community that contributes to lifting the spirits of the people, literally inspiring and saving lives.

During Shannon’s visit to his small home set back in the woods, it was tough to see the conditions he lives in. Since the home is remote, during the rainy season he may be held up inside for weeks since the ground is too muddy to handle his 6 foot 2 inch frame navigating a wheelchair….While he is there, his mother has to take care of him, their home, their meals….even gathering water for them to bathe in and cook with requires hitch-hiking with barrels to fill and bring back….

This is a hard thing for our team members to see and process, but  guess what? Shannon would definitely do it all again in a heartbeat. She is already thinking of a family she would bring with her here on the next trip so that their eyes can be opened in a way that creates a path to parts of the heart that have never been entered before.

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