“I have been blind”

Poor churches in far-flung parts of Zambia are waking up to the fact they can transform lives through simple acts of compassion.

Chico’s recent operation may have saved his life.

All eyes turned when Mama Joshua appeared at the door. The pastors in Solwezi had just been learning why they should reach out to families affected by disability, through ‘Transform Disability’ training.

Mama Joshua had come, unannounced, to pick up the wheelchair her Wukwashi support group had provided for her son. It was hard, she said, to juggle the needs of a disabled son and a young daughter. ‘At the market, I can’t hold two of them at once and buy what I need. My church does nothing to help.’

Her words had a profound effect. ‘I’ve been a pastor for 27 years and I’ve been blind,’ said Albert, visibly moved. ‘Today I have understood that a whole group has been missing from my church – children and adults with disability – and now I will bring them in.’

Wukwashi and BCT are now hoping more pastors will have lightbulb moments like Albert’s. Through support groups such as Mama Joshua’s, families are being freed from the shackles of taboo and gaining access to life-changing training and treatment.

Baby Chico (pictured) has just had life-saving surgery in Lusaka for severe hydrocephalus; Zara, who’s five, is discovering the restorative power of play at her Solwezi support group after severe malaria left her mentally ill.

Ultimately, the hope is that churches will set up and run groups of their own. ‘It’s so inspiring to see our partners’ determination to press on and see attitudes change in the church and communities,’ says BCT’s Carolyn Gent.