Imagine that your child was born with severe disabilities, requiring continuous care and attention. To make it worse, it was clear that your child would be confined to a wheelchair for the majority of their life.
As your child grew older and you learned to care for him/her, violent political conflict erupted in the city near your home. The local economy collapsed and your family was struggling to make ends meet, let alone stay safe from the conflict. As you tried to rebuild your economic stability, finances were increasingly tight--so tight that you realized you would not be able to provide the certain kind of wheelchair that your child would need. What would you do?
This is reality for certain families with children who have special needs in Kosovo.
The central Balkan country of Kosovo has a history of territorial disagreements that have severely affected its citizens. Between 1989 and 1998, Kosovar Albanian forces fought with Serbian forces over Kosovo's status of independence as a country. The conflict became violent between 1998 and 1999, with many ethnic Albanians living in Kosovo being killed by Serbian forces, and over 800,000 being forced to flee their homes. The conflict was not fully resolved until very recently in 2013 (The World Factbook).
These conflicts left many families in very poor economic conditions throughout Kosovo. Basic necessities were expensive, and access to proper healthcare was limited, especially for those who could be marginalized for any reason such as those with children who have severe disabilities.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we have a responsibility to be a voice for the voiceless, and to provide for those who are most needy in our communities. Throughout the Scriptures, we read about Jesus and his disciples consistently exemplifying how to truly see the needs of the "least of these," and to give healing and hope in whatever capacity God enables.
In Acts 3:1-10, the apostles Peter and John were on their way up to the temple to pray. Just outside the gate, they both noticed and paid attention to a beggar who had been crippled from birth. Instead of ignoring him as they passed, they blessed the beggar by healing him with the power of God and sharing with him the good news of Jesus Christ. We strive to follow this example at IDES.
This past summer, IDES was blessed with the opportunity to assist our partners in Kosovo in providing 17 specially-designed wheelchairs, and 60 regular wheelchairs to struggling families with children who have special needs.
The seventeen children that were identified as recipients of the specially-designed wheelchairs were fitted by seating professionals into the chairs that were purchased through the support of IDES. Another 60 individuals that were identified as needing only a standard wheelchair were also provided with suitable chairs for their needs.
"There was obvious joy in the faces of the parents...who received a state of the art wheelchair that was able to provide for their [children's] special needs," our partner in Kosovo reported. "The local response from the government and others working with us in the distribution was one of appreciation and thankfulness."
This simple act of kindness thanks to your generosity will make an impactful difference in not only the lives of the families, but also in the lives of the disabled children who received the wheelchairs. Their mobility will be significantly increased, which will in turn increase their quality of day-to-day life.
Our partners in Kosovo have gone on to build a relationship with a local aluminum production company, in hopes that they will be able to manufacture the specialized wheelchairs in Kosovo as opposed to importing them whenever there is a need for more. This will allow our partners to build long-term relationships with the families and the local businesses in order to share the Gospel.
These are the stories that you are a part of creating!