Wednesday, January 23, 2013

"On yer bike" @ proVision Asia

Back in 1988 a 14 year old boy, his legs unable to carry him after an attack of polio as a baby, is propelling himself along a dusty road sat on a rough wooden board with four wheels attached. An American couple passing by see him and the rest, as they say, is history. And what an awe inspiring history the story of proVision is!

That 14 year old boy now fully grown, works at proVision and smiles and smiles. I took so many pictures of Muni and I don't have one where his beauteous smile is not illuminating the whole room and some. Muni now has a modified wheel chair - this is one of the services the charity performs. That American couple, who have been resident in Bangalore off and on since that time, set up this incredible organization which lifts up and empowers some of the Bangalore-disabled to escape the rigors of extreme poverty, find employment and support themselves and their families. Its is a hand up rather than a hand out approach. Chip not only set up ProVision but also was a founding member of BICF, our church here.

What strikes you here, as well as the incredible services the charity performs, is also the feeling of possibility, of options, of giving, of's a place you want to stay -  to feed off the joys, the spirit and the wonders.

Old retired wheelchairs are collected overseas through friends of proVision and arrive in India. They are then repaired by inmates at one of the Bangalore prisons in a rehabilitation program and then modified to the specific customers needs. This little on-site workshop is presided over by apparently the best and most sought after wheel chair modifier in Bangalore who is himself hearing impaired. He has two kids, one of whom is also hearing impaired, but the other son is a high performer and a rank student. He won one of the scholarships proVision offers via the OWC. Its all about lifting up, transcending.

As well as wheel chairs, the charity has a physiotherapy center with one full time member of staff and soon a couple of interns from a college will also be stationed here. The physiotherapist is kept busy. There are a lot of polio victims but also a lot of cerebral palsy sufferers. The marriages within the extended family contribute to the high instances of CP. She has some wonderful stories of instances where proVision has helped families in extreme need pick themselves up. Not only do the prescribed treatments and exercises help the atrophied muscles of the kids, but the parents get some much needed socialization with other CP parents, to empathize, compare notes..... These CP kids can't afford hospital treatment; so, often quite treatable problems go untreated. For example, the boy with mild CP who could only walk on his toes, couldn't run or play because he was so unstable. The physio prescribed some exercises to stretch and build up his hamstrings and achilles and within a couple of weeks he could walk/stand with his heels on the floor and his life was changed.

Or this little guy....

 Life got off to a tough start. Born with CP, his Dad committed suicide and his mom left him. His view of the world was not only one of abandonment and sorrow but also one at shoe level as he couldn't stand and had no apparatus to help him do so. But luckily for him he is a neighbor of the smiling Muni to whom he smiled and waved to from his home on the floor.  Muni brought him into proVision. He now can stand and with his calipers and walking frame can get about. He dances. In fact, wheel chair dancing is quite an art. He attends the Mithra Special School also run by ProVision for special needs kids. They have 15 kids who attend lessons as well as visit the physio. We were only too happy to dredge our brains for the not quite forgotten words of "The Wheels on the Bus" to sing along with them.

The purpose of our visit was to witness the handing over of specially modified three wheel vehicles/bikes to some proVision clients. Some of the money is raised by the bike's owners and the modifications are done by the charity, sponsored by the OWC. This is really special: can you imagine the difference these bikes make for these guys.  The independence to get to work, take their families out, go shopping, carry things........... just to be able to zip about like an able-bodied guy. The sheer joy on their faces, and everyone else's faces. when these guys were handed the keys to their freedom was beyond words.

We were taken out for a spin. It was all laughter and fun. Joking that the disabled bikers' wives would be shown the pics of their hubbies taking other women (us) out for a ride! The guy driving me had one artificial leg which was still shorter than his other leg, but once he arrived somewhere on his bike he could dismount and hobble about a bit. Others could transport their crutches etc. on the bike so they could not only get on and off but also get to and from their new bike. Some bikes had various velcro straps attached to help their riders stay stable in the saddle. All were modified with the needs of the specific owner in mind.

We met so many of the world's unsung heroes today. The people who do so much for others, without a song and dance and a hullabaloo but with humility and huge all encompassing smiles. We also met so many of the world's heroic, those who deal with so much in their lives, more hardship and sorrow than we can contemplate, but still with smiles of joy to share.....

It was an incredibly special day and one I was so honored and privileged to be able to share.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, wow, wow!! Such incredible work. Thank you for being a part of lending that hand up!