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Wheelchair recipients in Africa
Wheelchair recipients in Africa
Lions Club of Harare
Wheelchair recipients in Africa

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: >>> In Tanzania, along “Mosquito’s River,” Conservation Foundation Trust works with local tribal communities to reach disabled children, adults, and elderly in an area seldom visited by aid organizations. Traditional rural trade routes meet in areas where multiple Tribes have settled. In villages like Mto Wa Bbu, like any major cultural hub, people from all stations of life do business together and take part in caring for one another. >>> Lions Club of Harare West presents wheelchairs to individuals and institutions in need of wheelchair mobility. >>> Recipients and their families gather to celebrate the gift of a wheelchair. >>> Lots of excited and happy recipients take a moment to thank the Lions for their efforts to assist the people of Zimbabwe. >>>

For more than 20 years Wheelchair Foundation has been providing wheelchairs to partner organizations whose specialty is to reach deep into rural areas not frequented by other aid organizations.

Mto Wa Mbu is a small village a little over 75 miles due west from Arusha, Tanzania. The name “Mto Wa Mbu” means “Mosquitos’ River.” Here locals grow bananas and host tourists who pass through on their treks to Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and Serengeti National Park. The populace is made up of members of some 150 unique tribes with nearly as many languages spoken.

Conservation Foundation Trust (CFT) is committed to supporting communities in and around wildlife reserves and protected areas. The community support is part of a partnership with the villages to conserve the natural resources and ensure that they receive tangible benefits from the sustainable use of wildlife in the protected areas. On behalf of Wheelchair Foundation, CFT was able to distribute 20 wheelchairs to the disabled people of Mto Wa Mbu bordering Monduli Juu Open Area.

South of Tanzania, in Zimbabwe, the Lions Club of Harare West has been a wheelchair distribution partner helping to reach the disabled near Harare. Although grateful for the privilege to serve their community through assistance rendered through the receipt of wheelchairs, their work has revealed greater demand than they have supplied. Economic constraints within the country and the early effects of the global pandemic may very well continue to increase the demand for wheelchairs.

As with many distribution efforts, in the process of identifying individuals in need of a wheelchair, when the word spreads, suddenly the demand rises above the number of wheelchairs available. Many partner organizations maintain lists of people in need, in the hope that more wheelchairs will arrive. In Africa, there is always a need. It may just take more effort to reach those waiting for relief.

We are thankful for our partners, their families, and our donors, all of who keep making our work possible.

During this pandemic, we continue to be inspired by the determination of our amazing partners and donors that have made it their mission to continue alongside ours and provide mobility to individuals that need it but may not have the means to attain it. Below is a story from Glen Mather from Chair The Love, one of our partner organizations out of Florida that recalls their recent distribution to Mexico and not just the struggles they were faced with but the blessings they were given.

youngboyinwheelchairAmeca, Mexico

“Our plan started with 22 donors traveling to Guadalajara, Mexico to distribute 280 wheelchairs in the surrounding area.  Due to the ravages and fear of Covid-19, our traveling group narrowed to nine.  After checking the infection rates, and realizing that their state of Jalisco had half the rate of infections than did our home state of Florida – we decided to go ahead.

The blessing of giving was never more apparent than the experience of our trip to central Mexico.  We had never delivered to this area of the country, so everything was a new experience to the Rotarians that helped arrange for the logistics and locate the neediest recipients.  What transpired was one of the most impactful distributions of the dozen or more I have been a part of.

Our hosts obsessed with our comfort and were anxious that we were able to experience what their region had to offer.  Cathedrals dating from the 1500s, colonial cities, lakeside towns, and modern skyscrapers, and an amazing Mariachi band were all part of our visit, but the central point, as always, were the distributions.  They provided a luxurious motor coach to make the hours upon hours of traveling the most comfortable possible.

Five separate distributions spread over three days provided an incredibly emotional experience.  The youngest recipient was three, and the oldest was Margarita at 101.  The eldest asked if we could come to her home, as she now could make fresh tortillas for us, now she had her first wheelchair.

In the agricultural town of Ameca, we met Angel, a young man of 32 years old.  He stood out for a couple of reasons – his “Iron Maiden” Tee shirt, a plethora of tattoos, and infectious energy.  He had lost his legs in a motorcycle accident six months earlier, and Chair the Love and the Wheelchair Foundation provided him his first wheels since that day.  He now saw his life-changing in an incredible way.  He could return to work, hang out with his friends, and be part of the community.   His wife, a beautiful lady with a smile almost as big as Angel’s, was so happy that she would be freed up from worrying about getting him to the doctor and out of the house.

In Ajijic, a magical town on Lake Chapala, Jalisco, a twenty-two-year-old who lost a leg to diabetes, started popping wheelies a few minutes after being seated in his new red chair, and his wife commented that they now could go dancing together!

When we stood at our final event, facing 86 wonderful people, the attendees were asked to stand when possible, for the playing of the Mexican national anthem – my most emotional moment happened.  There on the front row was an 82-year-old man, whose legs had had multiple surgeries – pushing against the armrests of his new chair, struggling to stand.  With help from his daughter, he rose, and stood ram-rod straight and proud, with tears streaming down his face, hand on his heart.

This was followed by the singing of the US Anthem – with only nine of us to fill the large gymnasium with joy in our hearts.  It never sounded or felt better, or more right.  Two countries, both geographically in North America – united in a way that politics could never accomplish, joined together with love and thankfulness that will never be forgotten.  God indeed blessed America this weekend – both the US and Mexico.

I cannot thank enough the hundreds of donors that made this trip possible and would encourage each of you to find your own way to give the gift of mobility.  I hope that at least once, you can come with us on a future distribution trip to feel the emotions of what your gift means to the entire family.  In their own words, “muchas gracias con todo nuestro corazon”.”

Join Wheelchair Foundation this Sunday, July 30th at

Stella’s Ristorante located at 3451 Blackhawk Plaza Rd. in Danville, California for

“Wheelchairs For Jalisco Dinner”

Call (925) 263 – 2112 for details and reservations

This article was redistributed from it’s original article written by Jeb Bing of the Pleasanton Weekly and can be found here.

Donation matches club’s fund for delivery of 280 wheelchairs to disabled in Peru

Del Corazon, a charitable group that raises money to assist the disabled, has donated $21,000 to the Rotary Club of Pleasanton, an amount that matches the $21,000 the club has already raised to purchase a container of 280 wheelchairs to deliver to Peru this year.

Del Corazon was started by Don Routh, Bill Wheeler of Black Tie Transportation and Josh Routh to support efforts that focus on helping those with physical, intellectual and developmental disabilities. In 2016 alone, Del Corazon coordinated six wheelchair deliveries to Central and South America, contributing $94,500 to the effort.

Del Corazon founders Don Routh (left) and Bill Wheeler (center) present check for for $21,000 to the Rotary Club of Pleasanton for wheelchair deliveries to the needy. Joining in the presentation are School Superintendent Rick Rubino, Rotary District Governor Jeff Orth, Wheelchair Foundation President David Behring and Rotarians Dick Stafford, Bob Athenour and Randy Brown.

The group also conducts the “From the Heart” schools program, which educates students and teachers about the challenges of the disabled through presentations, curriculum, a Wheelchair Week and fundraisers. Since 2009, 57 schools in Pleasanton and the San Ramon Valley, along with schools in Hayward, Concord and Oakland have participated.

To date, the program has raised $253,000 to purchase wheelchairs, and a number of students and teachers have traveled toCentral and South America to deliver them.

Wheeler, David Behring of the Wheelchair Foundation, Rotary District Governor Jeff Orth and school superintendent Rick Rubio joined in presenting the$21,000 check to the Rotary Club at its meeting Oct. 20.

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