Saturday, August 10, 2013
So - why aren't YOU smiling?
You can see the disability of the youngster in the wheelchair who is being greeted by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller at the recent Independence Grand Gala event (Gleaner photo)
What you don't see is that the smiling Steven Walker (the blonde with the towel round his neck) lost both hands and legs to a bacterial infection last year.
Below is Steve's moving story of great human kindness in the face of personal crisis:
COCONUT CREEK, Fla. (Aug. 8, 2013) – Never give up! It is a popular expression that is often over used and under appreciated. But anyone who has ever met 30-year-old Steven Walker would understand the power of these three little words and why this Jacksonville man is so passionate about life, the people of Jamaica and Food For The Poor.
Walker has travelled to Jamaica several times in recent years with his mother, longtime Food For The Poor donor, Barbara Gilbert. His most recent trip was his first visit back to the Caribbean island since having both of his legs and both of his hands amputated due to a bacterial infection last spring.
"I wasn't quite sure how the people in Jamaica would respond to seeing me again, this time without my limbs, but I have to say everyone has treated me with incredible kindness and respect," said Walker. "I got to participate in a lot of projects on this trip, but I really enjoyed visiting the different orphanages, especially the ones that are caring for severely disabled children. That was very special for me."
Another thing that touched him was the surprise dedication of the finished Celebration of Life School and a computer lab. It was constructed in Steven's honour for the many students he has tutored over the years. Steven and his mother also were surprised with a performance by a group of children from 'Barbara's Village' and students in the Musical Band Youth Program who received instruments for the Jeff's Band initiative, which was spearheaded by Gilbert through Food For The Poor.
"It's been said when you are a blessing to others, blessings will always return to you. Before this tragedy happened with Steven, Barbara had been giving of her time and resources to truly serve the poorest of the poor," said Angel Aloma, Executive Director of Food For The Poor. "When most people would have given up on everything, her tenacious spirit and that of her son persevered, thanks to the countless prayers and well wishes from family, friends, staff and strangers. Steven's recovery is truly a miracle."
Gilbert says all of her visits to Jamaica are great, but this latest trip with her son, along with her mother, Patricia Ware, is one she will always remember. After visiting Jamaica for nearly a decade she is often asked, what keeps her going back?
"For me, the poor of Jamaica is a lifetime commitment," said Gilbert. "I am only doing what we are all supposed to be doing, and that's giving love and trying to plant seeds of hope, which is what I am all about."
During the week-long visit, Walker and Gilbert, along with volunteers from Colorado, Pennsylvania, Texas and Florida, built a new home for a mother and her three daughters in Spanish Town. Walker, a soft-spoken person, displayed sheer delight while assisting the contractor at the building site, and especially when the family received the keys to their new home.
"Before my illness, I would have described myself as being somewhat introverted," Walker expressed, while reflecting back on the week on the last night of the trip. "After my amputations, I had my moments when I felt depressed about my situation, but I soon snapped out it because no one wants to be around someone who is sad all the time. So I choose to make the most out of my situation and to help as many people as I can along the way."
Food For The Poor, named by The Chronicle of Philanthropy as the largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of the hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian ministry provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 95 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.
Food For The Poor
954-427-2222 x 6079
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