In July 2015 we delivered 560 wheelchairs on a two week trip to Peru. The first week we were joined by 14 teachers, high school students and parents as we delivered wheelchairs to Ica, Parcona, Pachacutec, Chincha, and Pisco. In our free time the group experienced sandboarding in Huacachina and a boat tour of Islas Ballestas. We took advantage of our two days between distribution groups and took the Orient Express to Mach Pichu where Josh was the first wheelchair user in memory to reach the Temple of the Sun. For the second week we were joined by another group of 13 teachers, high school students and parents for our deliveries to Huancayo, La Merced, Satipo, and Tarma. There were long bus rides on winding roads reaching elevations of 16,000 feet. We hiked to an incredible waterfall in Chanchamayo and visited towns where they rarely received any humanitarian aide. All in all I think everyone would say they had an incredible experience delivering mobility to people who, in some cases, have waited decades for a wheelchair.
Don, Josh and Bill spent three days delivering 280 wheelchairs to the people of Nickerie, Paramaribo and Muengo in Suriname. Suriname (Dutch Guiana until 1975) is a country of 500,000 people on the northeast coast of South America. The official language is Dutch and it is the most jungle covered country in the world (95% covered). The ethnicity in Suriname is fairly evenly spread among Creole, Maroons, East Indian and Javanese. Not very much English is spoken and our presentations had to be interpreted into Surinamese and Aucaans (Maroon tribal language) as well as Dutch. Suriname receives comparatively little foreign aide. This was the first time representatives of the Wheelchair Foundation had traveled to Suriname although the Foundation had sent a container of wheelchairs there through the Mormon Church in 2002. We are often asked how long our wheelchairs last. You will see photos of two of our wheelchairs from 2002 that, although very worn, were still being used!!
In July 2014 we delivered 280 wheelchairs to the people of San Jose, Curridabat and Guapiles, Costa Rica. The money for these wheelchairs was raised by over 45,000 students in 48 schools and we had three teachers, two students and a parent/Rotarian join us on the trip. The gentleman in this picture had been waiting six years to get a wheelchair and was overcome with emotion when he was presented with his very own wheelchair. The last photos are of four home deliveries we did on the last day. The man in the blue pants received a serious brain injury during a robbery five years ago. He had been confined to a bedroom at his niece’s home and will now be able to have the freedom to enjoy the outdoors.
Also in July of 2014 we delivered another 280 wheelchairs to Tegucigalpa and Valle de Angeles, Honduras with the money raised by the 48 schools.
Seven teachers and three high school students joined us on this trip and had the experience of a lifetime. One of the highlights was when a busload of 63 people with disabilities and their families arrived after a four hour trip. It was a very touching scene to see the recipients being carried off the bus to begin a new life with mobility. We also did a distribution at a school and an orphanage where severely disabled children had been abandoned by their families and were left to be raised (with no visitors) at this facility. The orphanage had 87 residents but only about 60 wheelchairs so we were able to provide all of the remaining residents with their own wheelchair. When we arrived nearly 30 young adults were laying on mattresses and on the floor. When we left they were all sitting in wheelchairs ready to start leading a much more dignified life.
In March 2014 we delivered 280 wheelchairs to the people of Asuncion, Cerrito, Ita, Carapegua and Lambare, Paraguay. It was just the three of us on this trip that took more than 24 hours of travel each way. We saw a great Physical Therapy center with a pool etc at Teleton Fundacion and distributed a lot of wheelchairs to the children who receive therapy there. We also did several home deliveries out in the countryside which is always our favorite. Check out the photos of Blas Santacruz (24) who lives with his father in a small house with a kitchen on the outside wall. You can see us loading up his original wheelchair to ship back to the Wheelchair
Foundation Museum. There are also photos of one of our wheelchairs that he received eight years ago. As you can see, it was well used and completely worn out! He now has a brand new wheelchair and perhaps we will see him again in another eight years!!
Our most recent wheelchair delivery trip to Guatemala City and Antiqua, Guatemala in June 2013. Six teachers from Lydiksen Elementary in Pleasanton joined us for this life changing experience. The first pictures are of a 61 year old double amputee who had not been out of her house in six years. In Antiqua we delivered wheelchairs to a residential Hospital (yellow building) for 250 severely disabled children, adults and the elderly. All but four of them had been abandoned. The hospital has 320 staff and is extremely well run.
In March of 2013 we delivered 220 wheelchairs to Villahermosa, Mexico and then drove eight hours to deliver another 60 wheelchairs in Belize City, Belize. We were joined on this trip by our friend Angela Adkins and her fellow Rotarians from Chicago. The Wheaton, Illinois Rotary Club, along with the Hilton Hotel in Pleasanton (represented by Ted Mayorquin) raised the majority of the money for this container of wheelchairs. We did five separate wheelchair distributions along with several home deliveries as we traveled through the state of Tobasco and into Belize. Armadillo was served at one of our lunches.