Brenda is an amazing woman we have met who has a deep passion for connecting the worlds of disabled and able-bodied people. Brenda has Cerebral Palsy and is mobile through the aid of a wheelchair. Inez interviewed her recently to share some of her passion with you all and connect you with her latest project – Camp Kaleidoscope. The blog post below is written from Brenda’s perspective. Please read through to the end of the post to  see how you may support this wonderful initiative.

I was born in Zimbabwe at 28 weeks – 12 weeks premature. The hospital I was delivered at had only one incubator. At the time I was born there was another baby who also needed an incubator. My dad ended up making an incubator-type bed for me to keep me warm. The fact that I was born premature, and that I didn’t have an incubator, is what I understand are the possible reasons for having developed Cerebral Palsy.

Doctors told my parents that if they wanted to have me baptized, they ought to do it soon because they didn’t think I’d live much longer. Three months after my birth the three of us left the hospital together. When I was about five, we moved to South Africa in pursuit of better medical care and schooling.

Early on I didn’t notice much different between others and me. My parents treated me like they would any other child. In fact, I remember my mom carrying me on her back in order to get around hassle free. Although they had to adjust their lives to some extent, I never felt it was with resentment. They accepted me for who I was, their beloved child.

As time has gone on I’ve noticed my difference more, particularly through the fact that society is largely built for able-bodied people. Often I need to think twice about doing anything or going anywhere because of this. Having a disability dominates so much of my life and the life of my primary caregivers. I remember going to College, and there were no ramps for people in wheelchairs. One day, I fell out of my wheelchair because of the way I had to maneuver around the College, and it was only after this that ramps were built. I don’t view this with bitterness. I believe God places me in specific places to make a difference – to pave the way for others.
I sometimes find that people don’t recognize me for who I am, but instead see my wheelchair as my defining characteristic. It is only after they have spent time with me that they look beyond it and see me for who I truly am. I would love to live in a world where a disabled person is not looked at with pity, but rather with pride – despite their elements of ‘brokenness’, they are embraced as an individual. After all, everyone is ‘broken’ to some extent; some people’s brokenness is just more visible than others. I believe that empathy for our brokenness as people, able bodied or disabled, will enable us to change the world for the better.

 

“Everyone is ‘broken’ to some extent;

some people’s brokenness is just more visible than others” 

 

In my life I have had to continually make the decision either to be joyful about who I am or to make the life of those around me a misery. I choose life and joy! Through this God has revealed so much to me. He has given me life, health, and an amazing family. In many ways, it is through my disability that I am who I am today – someone who wants to help, inspire and motivate people.

I have vowed to create memories and leave a legacy. Out of this my bucket list of 79 crazy dreams was born. Some of them I have already completed – like skydiving and bungee jumping! Some I am trusting God for – like walking. In the end what means the most to me is to enjoy every moment and to fulfill dreams that will have the greatest, hopeful impact on people.

One of the dreams from my bucket list I am currently working on is called: “Camp Kaleidoscope”. A kaleidoscope is made up of different shapes and colours, together forming something beautiful. This is exactly what I see in my vision for Camp Kaleidoscope. The different worlds of disabled and able-bodied people will be offered an opportunity to come together to be a catalyst for transformation, inspiration and motivation. Hopefully, there will also be lasting friendships formed at these events.

The Camp Kaleidoscope Steering Committee is planning an initial day event, in August 2017 in Rustenburg, to gather momentum towards a weekend camp. A number of different activities will be provided throughout the day that will support interactions between the two ‘worlds’. My prayer is that people will wheel, and walk, away knowing that they matter to God and each other. This project is being managed under the umbrella of the Vision of Hope Foundation, and will include the support of an American organisation, Train to Inspire.

If you would like to support the Camp Kaleidoscope vision please contact Brenda or Steve on the details below. The current needs of the project are:
  • Financial partnership
  • Long term support as part of the Steering Committee
  • Prayer support, for the success of the first day event

Brenda Klopper                            Steve Carter

072 356 8781                                082 854 3229.

brendajean@vodamail.co.za     steve@the-way.co.za