Catalyst Project

Catalyst Project

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

For eight years of my life, I was a pharmaceutical sales rep.  I was very fortunate in that the drugs made by the company I worked for were effective at treating certain illnesses.  I didn’t find it hard to tell physicians the benefits of prescribing these drugs.  However, one thing I learned was that people were often slow to change habits or behaviors.  My job as a sales rep was to spot all the objections to the company products and address them.  Essentially, I had to try to bring the physicians to a mind-space where they were ready to change what they were doing.

People often use New Year’s Eve and the following days as a chance to re-evaluate and perhaps make some changes in their lives.  There are jokes based upon resolutions that last a few days and then are forgotten.  Nevertheless, I think the desire to see how things went and determine what changes may be necessary is a good thing.  I’ve been thinking about that with the Assistive Technology Catalyst Project. This coming June, we will have been working at this for two years, and it’s time to look back and then think about the future.

Many years ago, there was a drought in northern Kenya.  A well-meaning man sent a container load of powdered Hollandaise sauce to a mission headquarters in Nairobi where it was delivered and put in the parking lot.  This was to be distributed to the needy folks in the northern part of the country.  I am sure that this man’s reasoning was something like “instant calories, just add water”.  He didn’t know a key piece of information and hadn’t thought to ask and really listen.  Powdered Hollandaise sauce was a completely unknown food to the hungry people, and it was useless. The heavy container began to sink into the pavement taking up valuable space.

August 8th, 2019

I love fly-fishing! In fact, I just got back from leading an outreach fly-fishing camp. So I’ve been thinking about lying to trout.  Trout eat bugs, and those who tie flies for fly-fishing imitate bugs to fool trout.  If a fisherman knows what the fish are eating, he can do a pretty good job of imitating what the trout wants using thread and some feathers.  It’s a lie tied to a hook.  I think that holds a lesson. The most dangerous lies are those, like our artificial fly, that seems to be truth.

Years ago, while attending a conference, a speaker issued a challenge that impacted me: “Given who you are right now, how can you best make a difference in the world for good?

I could have answered this question differently at various stages in my life. Sometimes, at first, it seemed that I was doing nothing useful at all. But I began to see that little things could make a big difference, such as positive changes to my attitude, being present for my family, or encouraging one person at a time. God later opened doors for me to teach at a university, and now he is opening doors for my husband Phil and me to be catalysts in a process that will bring hope to those living with disabilities in low-income countries. 

The other day I read an article about how being thankful actually changes the way your brain works,  and the emotion of gratitude is closely correlated with happiness.  There are in fact, measurable health benefits if you live with an attitude of gratitude. Here’s a link to just one of many articles. http://ccn.aacnjournals.org/content/29/6/12.short It’s interesting that Judaeo-Christian tradition confirms the central importance of gratitude to psychosocial, physical and spiritual health – see Psalm 107:1, Romans 1:21 and I Thessalonians 5:18.

Helplessness and lack of knowledge can have harsh consequences. Avoidable pain and harm happen. For example, children with cerebral palsy often develop contractures and pressure ulcers that could be avoidable with a little training.  Contractures and ulcers often severely limit mobility and health. The ulcers can be fatal if an infection occurs.  Parents often feel very isolated and alone, unconnected with anyone with similar challenges.

May 15th, 2019

In the Canada I grew up in learning to be self-sufficient, taking on responsibility as I grHelpersew, was a major part of my life.  Dad was always eager to give us more responsibility around our home as was my mother.  Both my parents worked hard to provide for us, and it was only fair that we pitch in as we were able.  One of the resources my mother brought to the table was wisdom. She was adamant that I save money instead of spending it.  As a result, by the time I was University age I had a bank account with enough money for my first year of college.  I managed to work my way through my undergraduate degree and my master’s degree leaving only a $2000.00 debt for my formal education.  At the time I felt pretty good about being self-sufficient and there was a certain amount of young man’s arrogance involved. 

A primary goal of AT Catalyst’s is to bring wheelchair resources together with those that need them. Some facets of that goal include enabling affordable and appropriate wheelchair supplies, facilitating training, and finding affordable ways to seat those with complex postural problems. Success opens doors for collaboration between wheelchair specialists, and facilitation of ways to share real hope with those who receive the wheelchairs.

I guess I should thank my 6th-grade teacher Mr. Bishop for sending me to the back of the schoolroom for some altercation or another (he and I did not get along) because it was there that I discovered I couldn’t see. First, I thought it was a deliberate attempt by Mr. Bishop to sabotage my education as I couldn’t read what he was putting on the blackboard from the frontier regions of the classroom.  I relayed this information to my mother who was very wise, and she promptly took me to an eye doctor.  To her credit, she didn’t ask why I had been sent to the back of the school room in the first place. The doctor was able to determine that I was myopic and needed glasses.