Dinalva had never personally known someone with a disability nor was she likely to, but how quickly things changed when she herself became paralyzed.
Dinalva Nabuco and her nine siblings grew up in a small house in a little town in the state of Pernambuco, Brazil. Dinalva was the oldest of the seven girls and grew up with an independent spirit as oldest children often do. She loved living on the banks of a big river where they would build rafts and swim. She would fearlessly climb trees and pick the many fruits growing in this tropical area. Through the years she learned how to work with her father who owned and operated a printing business. Church activities were important to her, and she particularly enjoyed youth camp. These are just a few of the things Dinalva lovingly recalls of her childhood.
When Dinalva grew up, she left her home in Northeast Brazil and moved to the big city of Sao Paulo far from her small hometown. In Sao Paulo she established her own printing business, hired many people, and continued to be involved with church activities--especially church retreats with the youth.
She lived life as a single, independent, business woman for many years.
At the age of 42 Dinalva experienced recurring neck pain which became debilitating as time went by. She felt the need to visit a physician to determine the cause. Life would soon drastically change for Dinalva. The doctors told her that there was a tumor growing on her spine. Surgery was necessary but risky. Dinalva woke from surgery paralyzed and was forced to “walk” a different path in life than what she would have chosen for herself.
Fast forward 26 years and Dinalva Nabuco is singing praises to God for placing her in a wheelchair. Although she experienced dark days of depression and defeat, our faithful and loving God brought Dinalva through each trial and allowed her to begin a ministry that focuses on evangelizing and caring for individuals with disabilities.
Since it’s inauguration in 2009, Camp Refuge has opened its doors to hundreds of people with disabilities and their families as a physical and spiritual retreat. Dinalva is always there with a smile on her face, a song in her heart, and a story to tell: "If I could go back and have the use of my legs again, I wouldn't. I would rather have what God has given me: this ministry and outreach to handicapped people who desperately need to know that they are loved and valuable!" - Dinalva Nabuco