August was a busy month for Mango Tree Respite Centre in the Kingdom of Tonga. The month began with a Disability Bible Camp featuring two days of praise, worship, and fellowship for youth and adults with disabilities.
“Our mission is to not only provide rehabilitation for the people with disabilities, but to also serve them and their families, both physically and spiritually,” said In-Kwon Kim, Mango Tree administrator.
Later in the month, cheers could be heard from across the centre during Disability Sport Week.
“We stood in awe as Iloa, who had been in bed all of his life due to his quadriplegia, let out laughter and lifted his hands to hit the ball that had been thrown his way,” Kim said.
Siaosi, a paraplegic, and Maneo, a double amputee, playfully fought over who would get the ball while children with visual impairment gathered around a table to play a game of soccer. The children listened intently to the sound of the rolling ball and then hit it into the opponent’s goal.
Earlier in the summer, students from the Lincoln University in New Zealand came to the centre for 10 days, building herb and flower gardens. The students designed the gardens and even raised the funds themselves.
Gardening is beneficial for the emotional health and social development of people with disabilities. Planting flowers and looking after them is especially useful for rehabilitative therapy.
In many instances throughout South Pacific islands, children born with disabilities are seen as curses from the gods. Through serving as the tangible hands and feet of Christ, the Mango Tree Respite Centre is bringing these children and their parents to Jesus.