It is a great privilege for us, Dirk and Mary Kos, to share a part of our life with you that has made a tremendous impact on us. The seeds of our story began early. I, Dirk, have always worked with things on wheels starting with a bike shop in Holland fixing bikes and mopeds, and then in the steel construction industry and then back to fixing bicycles when we immigrated to Canada in 1982. During this time, I often turned my talents to addressing the needs of those with special needs. It was a great privilege for me to search for ways to make their life as normal as possible. We had many people asking us to create adaptations that allowed their loved ones with special needs to live their dreams, which in many cases was simply to ride a bicycle. This led me to start my own business, “Specialty Designs”.
Mary through all this, with a servant’s heart, was always willing to go the extra mile to strengthen the weak and encourage the meek, serving in care centers in Edmonton.
The focus of our life changed when we were approached by Strathcona Christian Academy in Sherwood Park to go with them as chaperones for a mission trip to Mexico. In Mexico, we saw poverty everywhere, no healthcare available, and nonexistent provisions for the children and adults with special needs. Throughout our entire visit we witnessed the incredible need for some basic care for children and adults with special needs and it was heart breaking.
With sheets filled with ideas we returned to Edmonton and went to work. The local business community blessed us with financial support and within a few months we sent needed help to Mexico.
As you can imagine, this was not the ideal way of serving, being 3,000 km away. The dream to set up shop at the mission was born. In the meantime, with financial and practical support of many people from Canada and Holland, we began preparing wheelchairs for the rugged roads in the Baja – changing and rebuilding wheels and installing mountain bike tires.
Eventually we were able to open a shop and we moved to Mexico. In this shop we started making handcycles out of wheelchairs, beds with wheelchair wheels and other projects to address special needs.
Alongside me, Mary started a small school class in our kitchen teaching those who simply could not get the education they needed. This became an important part of the mission serving approximately 30 special needs children full time, leading them to reach high school level. Again, we were blessed with Page 3 of 4 incredible support from Canada, the US and the Netherlands. We were able to build, with the support of Strathcona Christian Academy an additional Learning Centre where any child of the orphanage and the special needs children could access the best opportunities to learn and get ahead in life.
We are so grateful that this all could be established before health problems with Dirk’s hip made it necessary to return to Canada for adequate healthcare. The mission was blessed with Mexican teachers and helpers to take over for us and lead the children to the next level of education. The wheelchair shop was blessed with a man with a great love for the special needs community to continue the repairs on wheelchairs and bicycles for the children of the orphanage. The work we helped start continues in our absence.
Why do we tell our story? Because we wish that everyone who reads this will be encouraged to step out of their comfort zone and help those who cannot help themselves. Their thankfulness will be the greatest paycheque you will ever receive We are grateful to Jim Hummel for the support he has provided throughout the 11 years of our absence from Canada. We knew that our affairs were in great, reliable and honest hands and when we returned, he was there once again with great advice.
Thank you so much Jim for the opportunity to share our story.
Dirk and Mary Kos