Last fall we had the privilege of hosting a team of Dr's from Alaska. They had an incredible impact on the medical community here. They got people thinking about the concept of "disabilities" here, and the realization that for the more part, a disability is something that blocks a person from accomplishing a task, and is mostly society imposed. If you can not climb stairs, you are not disabled unless there is no way in but by using stairs.. or at least that is an over simplified example, but hopefully you get the point. There is a real importance in understanding this however, because unless you understand this, the label disabled or INVALID can be used far to often and freely, and with it comes all the social stigma attached.. and that way of thinking is what has led to the creation of INVALID homes. I would guess that 90% of these men would lead constructive full lives in America.
It is going to take a lot of education and walking along side the system here before things will change, but it is starting to happen. We can see it now when we visit the MENS home.
While here , the team spent time with the students at the International University of Central Asia.. The brightest of the Bright students from Kyrgyzstan. A University that has been built on integrity, setting it apart from the rest. These are the most promising students in the country. I Can not think of a Better place to start helping bring about a change of understanding for a nation. Our friends have been working on putting together a program that would allow some students from here to Volunteer this summer in Anchorage Alaska. They will work hand in hand with the team from HOPE , and see first hand the possibilities for people that are " Disabled" We are so excited about this program .
We have 4 students that are going to go in a few weeks. They have their visa interviews at the Embassy in a couple weeks, then they will purchase their tickets and will be on their way. The program in Alaska will pay 3/4 of all their expenses , plus will give the students a daily expense allowance that will be ample to cover the other 1/4 of the expenses.
The problem that we are facing is a real DISABILITY.... one that society has imposed on these kids...They are all from financially strapped families, and in a couple cases, have no families. There is no support network here for them but the teachers and staff of the University who are already stretched beyond belief caring daily for the students in need.
Jayne has been very busy working all the angles, and has done an incredible job for them. We have most of the loans in place, but we need to come up with about $600 each for them so that we can buy their tickets. They are fully prepared, and will have the means to pay back the loan, but we have just run the barrel dry at this side of the pond. Maybe some of you would like to help with this .. the total cost of the trip and visa's will be about $2200,
I have asked the kids to give me a paragraph introducing themselves.. I will post them over the next couple days so you can meet them yourselves .