One day, Brother Paul, a Congolese brother, came to see me.
“I need help with a little project,” he said. “A lot of people are disabled because of Polio. One young disabled man, called Wakaduku, wants to build wheelchair-bikes to allow these people to become mobile.”
I turned to my facebook friends and one immediately set up a just giving page. In no time at all, the first wheelchair was paid for.
I’d posted a video of Nellie on Facebook a couple months before.
“I’ve never had a wheelchair,” she said, “I really struggle in life because I can’t get about.” Nellie lives with her children in a house made from mud and sticks; she has a vegetable plot just in front. To tend to her garden she crawled through the mud. She was extremely pleased with her wheelchair.
A group of five disabled people were waiting for me the next day. “We want wheelchairs as well!” they said. I felt a new role coming on.
The next wheelchair was for a young man called Achilla, who lives opposite Nellie.
Then one morning, Pauline, a young woman, arrived by taxi-bike. She was very polite and was trying to complete her education. I told her that I’d put her on my list but that Wakaduku was away and she’d have to wait a while.
The next day, I mentioned her to Judith. “Oh yes,” she said, “Pauline lives near me.” A few weeks later, Wakaduku returned. We were starting to become frustrated with how long he was taking to make each wheelchair.
Another day, Judith decided that we should visit Pauline to tell her that the wheelchair was almost ready. As we approached the house I saw a woman. “That’s not her,” I whispered. “Yes, that’s Pauline,” replied Judith. I then realised that there were two Paulines – ‘my Pauline’ and ‘Judith’s Pauline’. What could I do? ‘Judith’s Pauline’ had been told she was getting the next chair, so ‘my Pauline’ would have to wait.
‘My Pauline’ came to see me, a few days later. I started to film her with flip-flops on her hands crawling across the ground at our house. Once again I posted it on Facebook and people from Middlesbrough Diocese immediately started sending £10 here, and £20 there. We got somebody else to build the chair from scratch. Pauline got her wheelchair within a week.
Next came Soliel. We bought a nearly new wheelchair and changed the wheels to cope with our rough terrain. ... and, now, we are already preparing for the next. Keep it up Middlesbrough Diocese!