Thursday, January 30, 2014

Strong desires

We are starting a teacher training on Monday.

Here in Ecuador, due to recent changes, there is a two weeks vacation from the schools at the beginning of February.

So, at FACE (Fundación Adelanto Comunitario Ecuatoriano, local partner to Finnish Free Evangelical Church for which I work) we're trying to make the best of the time and use it for teacher trainings.
It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. 
C. S. Lewis

Education department agreed for us to do an inclusive teaching training for teachers from 5th till 10th year of education (4th till 9th grade).

And we have a whole month to work with Special Education teachers.

These teachers aren't really Special Education teachers, some of them aren't even teachers but just High School graduates.
“Faith’s most severe tests come not when we see nothing, but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith vain.” 
Elisabeth Elliot

They all have severe reading comprehension problems and difficulties in logical thinking.

So, how come they are working in Special Education?

Because before 2011, when we started to work with Napo Province's Bilingual Intercultural Education Department, there did not exist Special Education in the bilingual (indigenous) teaching system.

The students with special needs stayed at their homes, hidden, ashamed, afraid, and abandoned.
Life provides losses and heartbreak.  But the greatest tragedy is to have the experience and miss the meaning.  I am determined not to miss that meaning.
Robin Roberts

I have so many heartbreaking stories of children and youth crawling on the floor, eating like animals, hidden in closets, bind with ropes, beaten, abused, and unable to ask for help or mercy.

In Amazonic Kichwa culture disabled people are supay wawa, demon children, born from a woman and a demon, sent to torture and damage the people around them.
But I have witnesses, O Israel, says the Lord!  You are my witnesses and my servants, chosen to know and to believe me and to understand that I alone am God.  There is no other God; there never was and never will be.  I am the Lord, and there is no other Savior.
Isaiah 43:10-11
The Living Bible

Or they are ghosts, souls of tortured people, raised from the grave, who have killed the real baby in the womb.

Only way to dispose a child like this is burn them alive or bury them alive next to a river.

There are no Kichwa Special Educators, because no Kichwa would have wanted to study to teach a child with special needs.
One of the most powerful concepts, one which is a sure cure for lack of confidence, is the thought that God is with you and helping you.  This is one of the simplest teachings in religion, namely, that Almighty God will be your companion, will stand by you, help you, and see you through.  No other idea is so powerful in developing self-confidence as this simple belief when practiced.  To practice it simply affirm "God is with me; God is helping me; God is guiding me."  Spend several minutes each day visualizing his presence.  Then practice believing that affirmation.
Norman Vincent Peale

It has been a long and painful road, but people are changing, the attitudes are changing, and there is hope for these children.

There are over 40 Special Education teachers in our program in Napo province.

And we are working with over 400 children and youth with special needs.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves.  Do what it says.
James 1:22
The New International Version

The teachers might not have graduated from a University but they have learned that God loves ALL the children.

They have understood that God has a special love for those who no one else loves, those who are the smallest of the smallest, the most insignificant of all.

And they have brought children to the sun, children who were hidden in holes in the soil.
Christianity must mean everything to us before it can mean anything to others.
Donald Soper

They have taught their students to walk; they have been there to hear them talk, to see how they eat with a spoon for the first time in their lives.

They have been there when a youth who used to wet him and throw stones to other people, smiles at them and calls them by name, and gives them a hug.

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:  "Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.  Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.  Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.  Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!  Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets."
Luke 6:20-23
The English Standard Version

Kichwa culture is communal.

Everything affects the community.

Everything revolves around the community.

Before the disabled people were seen as a threat to the community.

Now they are seen as a part of community.
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.
Jim Elliot

And what is part of the community must be integrated, included in the life of community.

And those who are members of the community must be helped, their live must be made, sumak kawsay, good life.

When I go to a community where a baby was burned just four years ago and see the people taking care of their disabled community members.
How far away is heaven? It is not so far as some imagine. It wasn’t very far for Daniel. It was not so far off that Elijah’s prayer, and those of others could not be heard there. Men full of the Spirit can look right into heaven.
Dwight L. Moody

Worrying about their happiness, health and safety.

Looking together into solutions and ways to improve their lives.

It's not just the people with disability that have found a new life, it is the community.
But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.
Psalm 68:3
The New International Version

Together we have found God who healed the blind man and made the lame walk.

God who told us to love everyone and take care of the most insignificant person.

God who said that it is not the fault of the parents, nor the person who is disabled.

God who gave us life and freed us all to live it. 

58 comments:

  1. Look at all those precious faces. Thank you for opening my eyes to a different part of the world. It's so easy to just get caught up in our own silly problems, when there's so many bigger issues out there!!! Thank you for all that you do!

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    1. Thank you, Jennifer, for reading. It is so important to get the information out there.

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  2. You always have beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing your experiences and opening up our eyes to global issues.

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  3. Although still not ideal, it sounds like some good progress has been made in education. I think just having teachers who care and want to make a difference will go a long way.

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    1. It is the first step, Angela. It's true that there is still a long way to go. But been seen as a person means a lot.

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  4. Wow. You're doing amazing work. Thank you for sharing. I'm sending this to my BFF who is thinking about doing similar work in the next few years.

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    1. I hope your BFF enjoyed the post, Christina.

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  5. I'm so glad that these programs exist now! What a wonderful thing.

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  6. This breaks my heart. These children are so beautiful. Thank you for all the work you are doing. God Bless!!

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  7. this is amazing! thank you for sharing. education can open the eyes of so many around us

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  8. I can't even imagine that there is a place where children would be dumped in rivers because they are special needs. That is just so incredibly sad! Bless those special education teachers!

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    1. It is a very different culture here, Jenn. It's not right but it is what the people used to think, was the right thing to do. What is important, is that it is changing.

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  9. I didn't know about this. But I am glad that all your guys' hard work is starting to pay off. Just look at those faces! You guys are doing such a great job :)

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  10. What a big change of heart from being viewed as a threat to the community to being viewed as a part of it, especially in the context you describe where atmosphere/community seems to mean so much!! How very wonderful!

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  11. Wow your pictures really tell a beautiful story!

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  12. It makes me sick to think that a child would just be discarded for being special needs. What a horrible thing.

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  13. The photos you posted are so breathtaking. Very sad to read though.

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  14. This is so heartbreaking. I believe that globally there is a stigma attached to children with special needs. But, it's nice to see that people are working to break down those walls especially where it is so frowned up and special needs children are so mistreated.

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  15. How heartbreaking! Those sweet children...you are truly doing God's work!

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  16. Wow - what a great work you are doing over there! I'm so glad that these programs exist!

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  17. looks like some progress is being made. You are doing great work

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  18. So inspiring! I spent time in the Tijuana orphanages when I was in college, and it's one of the most rewarding experiences to be able to help others.

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  19. It is amazing what the Lord can do with a few driven, believing disciples! Your work is amazing and touching so many! God bless you and all those special children!

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  20. As a former special education teacher, I find it heart breaking to hear how these children were treated. Thank you for the work you are doing!

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    1. It is heartbreaking, Pam. I try to concentrate on the changes we're making. But sometimes it's just too much.

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  21. It makes me so sad to think about how these special needs children have been treated. I'm glad that there are programs out there now that are helping these kids can the love, education, and attention they deserve!

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  22. So glad that there are so many caring people who are willing to help these children. Beautiful photos.

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  23. God Bless You! Love your blog and what you are doing... what God is doing! Thank you for sharing :)

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  24. You are truly inspirational to go above and beyond to help inspire such resounding faith and love to build up this community. Glad you can help them get the attention and learning they need to succeed.

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  25. The education system in other countries is so interesting! You are amazing for helping them out!

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  26. What sweet pictures, this post encourages me as a homeschool mama!

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  27. Your pictures are amazing. It is so wonderful that someone is now teaching these kids.

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  28. You have seen so much and I'm so glad you are sharing it with the world. God bless you for all you do.

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  29. It's sad that special needs children are hidden away! Makes me appreciate what we have even more!

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  30. That makes my heart hurt to know of so many who have suffered. I'm so glad things are changing now!

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  31. Wow my heart aches from hearing the story of these children. I'm glad things are changing and you are there helping! What a great job!

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  32. This is refreshing and inspiring!

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  33. You are doing some great work, with wonderful progress.. Keep it up.

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  34. This is just heartbreaking. Thank god there are people like you and your team making changes! thanks for making us aware!

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  35. I can't believe that there wasn't even a special education system before 2011! You guys are definitely doing amazing work!

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  36. Oh my gosh, this is both heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time! <3

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  37. How wonderful and inspiring. I think we're all looking to be part of a community, and it's terrible that kids are on the fringe because of their lack of abilities, education, or opportunities.

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  38. It's amazing what a difference attitude and education can make. I'm glad they are starting to accept those with special needs and not shun them.

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  39. Wow, Joanna! This was just such a beautiful story! Your pictures are arresting and precious! How horrid the old ways - how glorious the Light of Christ in the dark shines through your ministry! Blessings to you!
    Joy!
    Kathy @ The Writers Reverie

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  40. This is so amazing. I am so glad that you are concerned and doing something for those with special needs It is very sad that there are still the stigma associated with being "different". Great that you are working with those with special needs
    Handmade at Warratahstree

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  41. That is such an amazing job that you are all doing over there. God bless you all and the children as well.

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  42. You have told us a heartbreaking, yet wonderful story. The world needs more folks like you. You are making a difference and it shows in the way the children are being cared for and allowed to live. Hope abounds in this post. I LOVE the smiles and the thoughtful faces in your lifelike photos.
    Barbara @ www.allmylivesnow.com

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  43. It sucks that children with special needs were (and probably some still are) hidden away. I'm glad that you are bringing information to these people and are able to work with these children. I will keep not only you in my prayers but the people who don't possess the proper information and continue this process.

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    1. Yes, Cassie. There still are children hidden away. Especially in the communities further away. We want to reach out to them also and are doing progress, little by little. But it takes time.

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  44. Wow, God is definitely using you! So sad to read the previous beliefs regarding disabled children. So glad there is awareness. May God bless you! Praying for you and the ones that you reach.

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  45. Wow, I hope you and your group continue to be a blessing to the special needs children in your area. My middle daughter has a processing disorder, she needs a little extra help, but is doing quite well in public school. My prayers are with you in your work.

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  46. They are so precious and are gifts from God

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  47. What an incredible and sad story. I hope that these children find ways to live meaningful lives.

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  48. It is so wonderful that these special needs children are getting help. I hope they continue to get help and are able to have more funding and teachers.

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  49. It's awful to think that children are discarded for having special needs. I am so glad things are changing.

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  50. sweet photos in here...kids in here are so blessed for having a wonderful one like you

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