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Wheelchair Adventure in Africa

As a person with a disability, I have faced, and overcome, many challenges – everything from doing my daily routine, to dealing with how people viewed me.  As a Canadian with a disability, chances are high that someone has already gone through it and designed a “manual” to assist others along the way. My decision to travel to Africa is probably one of the biggest challenges I would ever “willingly” subject myself to, with no manual or guide book. I went with my husband, Vaughan, and my father-in-law to share my life testimony. Ultimately, all the preparation and planning did not prepare me for the challenges or culture shock! This experience impacted me in a life changing way.

Deep Ruts
Vahen attempts the driveway of our host’s home with Vaughan’s encouragement…. oops!

Being in Africa was a crazy reality for me. I didn’t see it as a possibility from a wheelchair.  My first days were rough, and I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it. I knew this adventure would affect me not only emotionally but also physically. My first attempt at a shower was an experience like no other. Three days into the trip, and I had not built up the nerve to go to the bathroom for anything other than an urgent visit. Each time I tried, there were more and more bugs and flies circling. One night when I finally said, “I have to be strong and do this”, the electricity went out for the whole night.

You never really know the impact you make in someone’s life. The more I came to know the people and their culture, I began to see that I had something to offer. Not because of my disability, but because of the strength God has given me through it. I can live life to the fullest, in spite of adversity.  Many people feel that having a disability means you are not valuable. In fact, you may have done something to bring this ailment upon yourself. You are a victim, so what is there to be happy about? Being in Africa was physically demanding but my physical challenges seemed small in comparison to their struggles.

Vahen and Vaughan in UgandaGod used me, in sharing my story, to be an example of true happiness through circumstances. Had it not been for my life experiences, I would not have had the power to encourage and connect the way I did with the people. Everyone expressed thankfulness  to have me there, and couldn’t wait to hear my story. I didn’t understand why l was worthy of such “recognition”, because I thought there are far more inspirational people than me. I will never view things the same again.

As difficult as the journey was, I was constantly reassured that this was where I was supposed to be. Thanks so much for being a prayer warrior. Only God knows what my future holds.

Living on the Edge ….Vahen King and for Vaughan & his Dad)

PS: For the full story of a High School graduates dream of going to Africa and then the two intervening catastrophes that blocked that dream, visit for her book “Going Farther” that she recently published.


(original e-newsletter post –  May 2012)


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