We are starting a teacher training on Monday.
Here in Ecuador, due to recent changes, there is a two weeks vacation from the schools at the beginning of February.
So, at FACE (Fundación Adelanto Comunitario Ecuatoriano, local partner to Finnish Free Evangelical Church for which I work) we're trying to make the best of the time and use it for teacher trainings.
Education department agreed for us to do an inclusive teaching training for teachers from 5th till 10th year of education (4th till 9th grade).
And we have a whole month to work with Special Education teachers.
These teachers aren't really Special Education teachers, some of them aren't even teachers but just High School graduates.
“Faith’s most severe tests come not when we see nothing, but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith vain.”
They all have severe reading comprehension problems and difficulties in logical thinking.
So, how come they are working in Special Education?
Because before 2011, when we started to work with Napo Province's Bilingual Intercultural Education Department, there did not exist Special Education in the bilingual (indigenous) teaching system.
The students with special needs stayed at their homes, hidden, ashamed, afraid, and abandoned.
Life provides losses and heartbreak. But the greatest tragedy is to have the experience and miss the meaning. I am determined not to miss that meaning.Robin Roberts
I have so many heartbreaking stories of children and youth crawling on the floor, eating like animals, hidden in closets, bind with ropes, beaten, abused, and unable to ask for help or mercy.
In Amazonic Kichwa culture disabled people are supay wawa, demon children, born from a woman and a demon, sent to torture and damage the people around them.
Or they are ghosts, souls of tortured people, raised from the grave, who have killed the real baby in the womb.
Only way to dispose a child like this is burn them alive or bury them alive next to a river.
There are no Kichwa Special Educators, because no Kichwa would have wanted to study to teach a child with special needs.
It has been a long and painful road, but people are changing, the attitudes are changing, and there is hope for these children.
There are over 40 Special Education teachers in our program in Napo province.
And we are working with over 400 children and youth with special needs.
Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.James 1:22
The New International Version
The teachers might not have graduated from a University but they have learned that God loves ALL the children.
They have understood that God has a special love for those who no one else loves, those who are the smallest of the smallest, the most insignificant of all.
And they have brought children to the sun, children who were hidden in holes in the soil.
Christianity must mean everything to us before it can mean anything to others.Donald Soper
They have taught their students to walk; they have been there to hear them talk, to see how they eat with a spoon for the first time in their lives.
They have been there when a youth who used to wet him and throw stones to other people, smiles at them and calls them by name, and gives them a hug.
Kichwa culture is communal.
Everything affects the community.
Everything revolves around the community.
Before the disabled people were seen as a threat to the community.
Now they are seen as a part of community.
He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.Jim Elliot
And what is part of the community must be integrated, included in the life of community.
And those who are members of the community must be helped, their live must be made, sumak kawsay, good life.
When I go to a community where a baby was burned just four years ago and see the people taking care of their disabled community members.
How far away is heaven? It is not so far as some imagine. It wasn’t very far for Daniel. It was not so far off that Elijah’s prayer, and those of others could not be heard there. Men full of the Spirit can look right into heaven.
Dwight L. Moody
Worrying about their happiness, health and safety.
Looking together into solutions and ways to improve their lives.
It's not just the people with disability that have found a new life, it is the community.
But may the righteous be glad and rejoice before God; may they be happy and joyful.Psalm 68:3
The New International Version
Together we have found God who healed the blind man and made the lame walk.
God who told us to love everyone and take care of the most insignificant person.
God who said that it is not the fault of the parents, nor the person who is disabled.
God who gave us life and freed us all to live it.