Papua New Guinea

published in ChildrenDisabilityEducation on March 26, 2018

Tabitha’s Gift

Her mum Vero though, when she learnt Tabitha had impaired hearing, fell into despair.

A generic square placeholder image with rounded corners in a figure.
Tabitha reckons she’s just like everyone else.

That’s why the counselling training Tabitha’s teacher received with the support of the Lutheran Church in PNG is such a blessing.

Vero shares …

“Tabitha was born fine, but when she was 8 months old she had cerebral malaria. This affected her hearing, but it was only when she was 2, going on 3, that we knew this for sure.

When I found out about this problem,
I was worrying so much I almost lost my mind.

I did not expect this to happen to my little girl. When Tabitha grows up, if she has challenges in her life, how will she share them with me?

In the community we come from we have never seen anyone else with this problem. So,
I kept Tabitha close to home so she would not suffer any discrimination.”

Australian support is changing life for Tabitha and Vero. The Australian government, through ALWS, supports the Lutheran Church in PNG in practical actions to help people like Tabitha and Vero in poor communities.

For Tabitha, it was training for her teacher in understanding and supporting children with special needs. Now there’s a special class Tabitha can attend. Vero explains:

“Before this class, all the while Tabitha and I never had a proper way to communicate.

So now we both come to school to learn signing.
When I come here I feel happy because we are opening up communication, and it is relieving me of my worries about communication.

Tabitha thinks she is just like everybody else.

She can do lip-reading, and likes playing sports. She also likes looking at pictures in the newspaper and magazines. She pulls out the magazines from the shelf in the classroom to look at all the pictures, and cries if the teacher tells her she must stop.”

Thanks to the support of people like you, Tabitha is receiving the support she needs. Yet the impact of the help you give Tabitha doesn’t end with her. Vero smiles:

“I think Jesus has a special place for children like Tabitha.

I would like Tabitha to become a nurse to care for people like her with a similar disability. There is a big challenge in the hospital now because the nurses don’t know how to communicate.

This will be a gift Tabitha can give.”

“Where I get my energy …”

Tabitha’s teacher is Gibani Simisi. Gibani has a passion for caring for people with special needs. She explains why …

“I had a place in my heart to care for children with special needs right from when I was young.

I used to see people with special needs staying away from church. When I saw them outside
I would go and sit with them, and encourage them to come into the church. I was just
a young girl then.

This is something in my heart, so this is where I get my energy. Now God can do something through this class for these children. It is God’s intervention that they can come here and learn to read.”

Who delivers your care?

Gibani received her counselling training as part of the Australian support to strengthen the practical care of the Lutheran Church in PNG.
With more than 1.5 million members, much of your care is offered by Lutheran volunteers going house-to-house. Women are hands-on and up-front, showing the love of God in their life by giving practical care.

What’s exciting is the Lutheran Church in PNG benefits from the aid and development work through ALWS, plus the ongoing mission and evangelism work of LCA International Mission.