March 16, 2023

Disabilities Community in Jamaica Benefits From Church Initiative

Adventist Possibility Ministries is assisting community residents with disabilities.

Nigel Coke and Inter-American Division News
Louise Swinton (second left) touches the head of her daughter Brittany during the presentation of a new wheelchair at the Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Manchester, Jamaica, on March 9. [Photo: Nigel Coke]

Dozens of members of the disabilities community in Jamaica benefited from free medical check-ups and assistive devices and presentations on mental health, psychiatry, and ophthalmology during an Assistive and Mental Health Symposium held at the Mandeville Seventh-day Adventist Church in Manchester from March 5 to 12.

The symposium formed part of a week of the annual Possibility Ministries Awareness week, organized by the Jamaica Union Conference of the Adventist Church.

“The week calls attention to the Adventist Church community and the wider community to this often-forgotten group of persons by the society of their rights and the need to accord them similar privileges to experience joy, happiness, liberty and contentment,” Adrian Cotterell, possibility ministries coordinator of the Jamaica Union, said.

Recent statistics show that around 200,000 Jamaicans live with a disability, but the numbers are disproportionately high among those affected by poverty and unemployment.

A beneficiary of the week’s activities was the Mustard Seed Community: Gift of Hope, which cares for 27 physically and mentally disabled residents. The organization received a visit at its institution by a team from the church and were presented with a donation of much-needed toiletries.

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“The visit to our institution was an exceptional one, and we were really happy for the donation received,” Ann Parker-Dale, administrator of the Gift of Hope, said as she attended the symposium along with other representatives and a resident of the institution. “I have learned so much from this symposium that I will be able to go back to make their lives a lot better.” Parker-Dale spoke to the psychiatrist, the ophthalmologist, and the medical doctor and promised to enhance the delivery of care to the residents.

Michael and Louise Swinton were happy to receive a new wheelchair for their 26-year-old daughter Britanny.

“I am happy for this wheelchair,” Louise Swinton said. “My child is not comfortable in the current one because the tires are not so good.” Swinton said the new wheelchair is solid and pretty. “She looks good in it. I love it, and I really appreciate this one. Thank you very much, and may you continue to be a blessing to others.”

The special Possibility Ministries week began with the planting of trees in many areas across the island, visits to infirmaries and place-of-care for the disabled, prayer and Saturday (Sabbath) church services, a symposium, and a grand convention on Sunday, March 12 at the Portmore Seventh-day Adventist Church in St. Catherine.

While most people refer to ministering to people with disability as Disability Ministries, the Adventist Church has decided on the nomenclature of Possibility Ministries, which recognizes the potential, promises, possibilities, life-changing and transformational outcomes that can take place when members of the disabilities community are involved in the activities of the church and society.

“Disability has no boundaries,” Cotterell said. “It has no face or race; it has no color or creed; it has no religion or denomination. Disability may affect anyone at any time, and so I appeal to our members and the wider society to show more love, patience, and kindness to members of the disabled community.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.