Assistive Technology Catalyst Project
with IDEAS and BethanyKids

Facilitating wheelchair services through faith-based hospitals in low-resource countries.

Blog December 17th, 2021

As I was growing up my father frequently talked about what he would be doing when he retired. He didn’t like his trade (he was a stone mason and a brick layer) and he didn’t like Edmonton, the city he grew up in. His retirement dream was moving to and building a house in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. From there he expected to make trips to Golf Courses in the area on what sounded like a daily basis. I wonder if even Tiger Woods plays golf every day.

Mom and Dad did move to the island, and they did build that house and in many ways Dad was content, at least for a little while. It became apparent that the amount of effort it took to take care of their new home, the cost of living on the island, and the cost of using the ferryboat system and of course greens fees made things difficult on a retirement salary. So, Mom and Dad modified the dream and moved to Vernon B.C. on the mainland. They purchased a condo that had a grounds keeper included in the deal and of course there were Golf courses nearby.

It wasn’t too long before visits to the golf courses ebbed and life in general slowed to a pace that included a lot of naps, watching T.V. etc. To be fair Dad had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and it progressed slowly eating away his ability to enjoy the things he loved. All of this begs the question, what should we be doing during the retirement years?

When I have questions like that I will go to the Bible for insight as to how to answer the question and you know what, I have found one bit of scripture that addresses the issue, at least for Levites. Numbers 8:23-26. This passage indicates that Levites who reach the age of 50 must stop serving at the Temple but continue to serve the younger Levites by guarding the temple. Some writers have referred to them as warrior priests. Makes me wonder what a trained 50-year-old could do against a trained 25-year- old but I digress.

I think that the modern notion of retirement is not found in the scriptures. There are probably many reasons for this including the fact that very few people lived to what we call retirement age. So, like the Levite, maybe we are supposed to be employed doing the Lord’s work and guarding the younger folks in our circle of influence. I can think of many things the church needs that older people can do:

1. Visiting and encouraging the elderly and infirm

2. Leading bible studies

3. Maintaining the Church Building

4. Prayer

5. Fund Raising

6. Membership on the Church Board

7. Missions

There are probably many more items that could be added to the list, but you get the idea.

Karen and I are both over 65 and have retired from the university professorships we held for 18 years. Instead, we are running a not for profit called “The Assistive Technology Catalyst Project”. The purpose of the project is to get Assistive Technology to people living in low resourced settings. We have focused our efforts on pediatric wheelchairs for children in Kenya. The project is growing and people from other countries and continents have tapped into the project’s resources. Please visit the A.T. Catalyst web page (https://www.atcatalyst.org/) or go to our personal web page (https://karenrispin.com/ ) and consider how you might become involved.

 

Phil Rispin

Good news! Check out the flags - we're having encouraging interactions with these countries.

flags small

  • Unexpected interactions with dedicated people in Turkey and Macedonia were so fun! Rewarding to link them to resources they hadn't known about, and I'm learning from them!
  • Encouraging news - two rehab people are planning to visit our partners in Aswan.
  • The bigger news has to do with serious goup zoom meetings with leaders in Angola and Uganda. These are major new initiates. It's excited to be able to be involved in facilitating! It was fun to link OM in Angola with ShonaQuip and listen to subseqeunt planning.  It was also exciting to connect staff with BethanyKids Uganda with Florence and the Mukisa foundation.
  • More big news. Serious conversations are going forward regarding taking steps toward making a BeeLine facility in Kenya to address the chronic need for pediatric chairs.  Pray especially that Josh, David, Luke, Mark, Solomon and Skip will keep moving forward to make this possible.

 

I think it was nine years ago Marci Dittmer came with her daughter Melanie to check out LeTourneau University where I was working as Associate Professor of Biology.  Melanie came to LeTourneau, then traveled to Kenya with me doing research on wheelchair function (she stayed some extra weeks to work with a study on predators).  Now Melanie is graduating as a veterinarian - congrats Melanie!!  Marci is taking a graduate writing course. One assignment was to do a profile article. She asked me for an interview. Her article got published!  Congratulations Marci!!  I thought you all might enjoy seeing Marci's work.

Marci's story in Light Magazine

River

Good news!  The wheelchairs you've helped with are finally getting to the children who need them.

Ralph, Pete, Elizabeth, Jack and Rosie received chairs from CLASP.   Finding the funds took time since CLASP required a minimum number of chairs per order required. The shipment was also delayed during Covid, and fitting chairs was delayed due to Covid restrictions in Kenya. 

Rachel. Walter, Kevin and George have BeeLine chairs.  We started the process to get these chairs to Kenya in 2017!!!  Thanks for all who helped make this possible.  They finally arrived in January this year. 

Persistence is finally bearing fruit and joy is beginning as children are being fitted.  Thanks for your help and prayers.

waiting

Good news! BethanyKids made the deadline for the first step of an application to the Assistive Technology Impact Fund! It’s a fund from the UK looking for those with innovative ideas to get quality wheelchairs to those who need them. BethanyKids and BeeLine wheelchairs want to make a facility which will make BeeLine chairs locally. They also intend to collect and form recycled plastic into some of the parts.

It was such a privilege to do a seminar with International Christian Medical and Dental Association (iCMDA).  Their seminars are definitely a good thing that came out of Covid!  iCMDA is connected with people doing medical work in many countries, people with big hearts to bring hope and help through appropriate clinical care.

Praying that God will bring good things from the information in the seminar so those at the seminar can reach out with good care to those experiencing disability!  

Thank you to Dr. Peter Saunders and iCMDA for opening doors! Dr. Saunders commented about the iCMDA seminars, "We have had 100-300 people from over 40 countries at most of the 31 webinars so far. Thus far most have been on COVID related themes but we are now broadening out. Most of those coming are Christian doctors and dentists, but from all over the world and many from Africa and Asia.”

This is at 2:00 pm in London, which is 7:00 am here! Appreciate prayers!! Especially that people are benefited.

One Christmas, just after my mom died, I spent hours sitting by the Christmas tree in the dark except for Christmas lights. That year I learned why Christmas comes near the darkest day of the year. In a cold and lifeless time, Romans lit bonfires to call back the light. Christians saw the symbolism and chose that day to celebrate the birth of the tiny baby who is the light of the world. Since then, I love lighting candles at Christmas - small defiant lights, speaking of our sure hope in darkness.

This crazy Covid year has emphasized that sometimes God decides to give something back in an unexpected way here on earth. He really does give and take away in interesting patterns! But with so much love..

Enjoyment graph

I’ve felt several times that something I loved was irrevocably lost to me. Maybe you’ve felt that too. I’ve realized that God holds who we are in his hand, including things we love that seem lost. (Check out CS Lewis “Great Divorce” for insights on how God redeems that which we love.)

bridges1.jpg  

Good news! You've enabled a cascade of wheelchairs (see below)

We need your help to make a bridge between the wheelchairs and the children who need them

Covid isn't easy! All of us have struggled. It's always so good to say thanks and give back. Here’s a great opportunity to do just that.

BethanyKids normally asks that families pay $35 for a rehab assessment before wheelchair fitting. (This isn’t to pay for a wheelchair at all. The cost with shipping - for most pediatric supportive chairs is around $500. Funds are raised for these other ways. Check out the cascade below!!). During Covid, families have had a hard time economically. On top of that, with Covid restrictions, it been hard for therapists to see children who need wheelchairs, so it’s been hard to keep paying staff!! With proper Covid protocols, doors are opening to help kids who need wheelchairs. But it’s a puzzle how to pay for that since many families are now in much reduced financial situations.