Imagine, if you will, never having walked due to a birth deformity; losing a leg to diabetes or other health challenge; or being disabled in a tragic accident, and suddenly the gift of mobility comes into your life. That was the blessing we offered to during our wheelchair mission to Guatemala in January 2020.
Through the generosity of the Asbury, Lynnewood and San Ramon Valley United Methodist churches, our team traveled to Guatemala to deliver 260 wheelchairs in partnership with the Wheelchair Foundation.
This was a remarkable opportunity to engage with families that had no means to purchase a wheelchair. They carried, carted or hobble-walked a family member everywhere. Our recipients included disabled and mobility challenged children, adults and seniors.
We started our week volunteering at Virgen Del Socorro in Antigua. This long-term care facility, run by the Franciscan Order of the Catholic Church, is for children and adults with permanent disabilities. Many of these residents suffer from Cerebral Paralysis. We found this to be a rewarding and enlightening experience, so appreciated by the residents.
Our second day of volunteering was at the Hospital of Santo Hermano Pedro, a charity hospital that turns no one away, and only charges what a person can afford. This Franciscan hospital provides medical services by local staff and volunteer physicians from around the world. We worked in the day care center and the Nutrition Clinic for young children. We were particularly touched by how children with clef palates and other congenital deformities receive feeding assistance to help them achieve improved health.
Our first delivery of wheelchairs was to a senior care community in Antigua. This government run residence provides compassionate care to elderly men and women who have no place else to go. It was amazing to see mobility limited residents slip into their new wheelchair.
Our major wheelchair distribution was at an event in the little town of Barberena. It was exciting to walk into the town hall filled with anxious families selected to receive a wheelchair. Each family was called forward to accept the wheelchair. We collectively celebrated the grateful, beaming recipient and their family. It was one of the most heartwarming moments you can imagine and one of the most humbling.
We delivered what seemed like an endless stream of wheelchairs. To see a child experience mobility for the first time in her life, brought tears to our eyes. Adults who had lost a leg, or seniors who could no longer walk on their own, were simply grateful beyond words. We changed many lives that day, with great love.
Thank you for your donations, prayers and the privilege to be your representative to the people of Guatemala.
Steve Elliott, Kal Peters, Raeanne Passantino, Mark Reckers, Thomas Johannesson, Bob Sanchez, Doug and Mary Ellen Huey