Christ comes to disabled Nepalese on a tricycle

By January 26, 2012

Nepal (MNN) — A lot of people in poor countries see little value in disabled individuals. Those with handicaps are tossed aside, unable to make a living or get around, abandoned by most of society and left to beg.

When Bruce Burk, a Christian worker in Nepal, saw the extreme conditions of the disabled, he had to do something about it.

Burk discovered that two of the most debilitating issues for handicapped people were the inability to get around on their own and the inaccessibility of work for them. In an attempt to solve both problems, Burk designed a tricycle.

Even those who are not disabled find it difficult to travel rural Nepali roads. And navigating the congested city streets in larger cities can be nearly impossible for the more than 300,000 physically disabled in Nepal.

With a grant from Baptist Global Response, Burk and his wife, Sherri, began a welding shop called Hope Haven in Dharan, Nepal. Hope Haven started building hand-propelled tricycles especially designed for those who do not have use of their legs.

The hand-powered tricycles are sturdy enough to withstand the rough roads, plus big enough to protect the rider and carry packages. Burk's design makes it possible for the physically disabled to get to school, work, church, and the market on their own–opening new roads of hope and opportunity. (Watch a video to see how the tricycles work here.)

The tricycles quickly spread joy among the disabled community.

Gangaram, a skilled worker with small electronics, had to wait for customers to bring him an item to repair. With the tricycle, he has the mobility to go to homes, thus making more money to support his family.

A father told how his tricycle is allowing him to take his children to school. Now his children have the opportunity for an education, and he has the joy of being a part of their lives.

Tricycle recipients aren't the only ones to benefit from Hope Haven. Burk has solved the job problem as well. He hires only people who are disabled themselves or are advocates for the disabled. "It's not about me training up workers for my production; it's about building up people," Burk says.

"We have had three Deaf workers, two polio survivors, and two who were advocates for disabled ministries. None of them had any fabrication or welding skills when they started. The confidence gained from the training has allowed some to choose other types of work," he says. One of his Deaf workers saved his money and opened his own shop after Burk taught him to weld.

Recently, Burk was able to turn the entire production of the tricycles over to the workers.

The tricycles cost $200 each to make, but Burk sells them for $20. (His clients pay for the tricycles instead of receiving them for free so they can feel a real sense of ownership and investment.) Help support BGR's costs in similar projects here.

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