Sixty-nine-year-old David Bernstein, of Christ Church, Barbados, was overcome by emotion as he shared his feelings of hope and appreciation to Latter-day Saint Charities and the Barbados Council for the Disabled for the wheelchair that he received. David spoke to those in attendance at the wheelchair closing ceremony about how his wheelchair has given him the ability to be mobile and improve his quality of life. He said, “I don’t know what I would do without it”.
The Barbados Council for the Disabled (BCD), in partnership with Latter-day Saint Charities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held a closing ceremony on September 20, 2019 at BCD Headquarters, Harambee House, The Garrison, St. Michael, in Barbados. It celebrated and recognized the donation of hundreds of wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes for Barbados residents, like David, who are in need. The ceremony recognized government leaders and officials, The Barbados Council for the Disabled, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, volunteers, and trainers who were involved in the wide-ranging project.
The ceremony included a prayer by Rev. Joseph Tudor, BCD Vice President; speakers Kerry-Ann Ifill, BCD President; Hon. Cynthia Forde, Minister of People Empowerment and Elder Affairs; and Minister of Finance, Hon. Ryan Straughn. President Edward Lynch, First Counselor in the District Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also spoke, as did two wheelchair recipients, Ralph St. Clair-Best and David Bernstein.
This day, however, was really about those receiving wheelchairs and other mobility aids, celebrating those who now have greater independence, greater self-reliance and a better quality of life.
To make this happen, volunteers from Latter-day Saints Charities, traveled from Utah, USA, to Barbados to train health care workers and members of the BCD in everything from wheelchair assembly and repairs to performing assessments of mobility-impaired people.
One of these volunteers, Elder McGuire, the Wheelchair Technical Specialist, presented certificates to trainees who completed the week-long training session. He also recognized each of the trainers and presented them with a symbolic key. He said, “These keys represent the work each of you do to help open up new doors, and the key to the program’s success.” Randy Mathurin, after receiving his certificate, said, “The trainers made us feel comfortable so we could learn and understand everything we needed to know.”
The organization and planning of the Barbados Wheelchair Project began over a year ago by Humanitarian Missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints working in conjunction with Latter-day Saint Charities and the BCD. They renewed their partnership for a second time to provide wheelchairs, training and services to Barbadians through-out the country. The wheelchairs and associated training fill a great need in Barbados, to raise awareness, facilitate education and economic opportunities as well as improve health and mobility for people with disabilities.
President Lynch said, “It is through projects like this that we follow Jesus Christ and His example of service and show love to those in need. It is through this example that we offer hope to those in despair.” He said, “We should always seek for ways to relieve suffering and help foster self-reliance”. He cited Latter-day Saint Charites’ motto from Matthew 25:40 “Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Wheelchairs will continue to be distributed and serviced throughout the year.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has a long history of providing wheelchairs for the disabled community of Barbados.