Ecuador

Last fall, one of our staff members led a training in Ecuador, and an attendee commented, “We are becoming familiar with far more than just the wheelchair’s mechanical assembly. It’s important to become acquainted with both the technical and the human aspect of how to treat the patient adequately and even how to adjust the wheelchair according to his needs so as to provide him with a better quality of life.

In the last six weeks, a series of devastating earthquakes rocked Ecuador. More than 7,000 buildings have been destroyed. More than 26,000 people have been displaced, and more than 8,300 have been injured. There is no quick fix in the face of natural disasters. Deaths, injuries, lost livelihoods, insecurity, fear, grief and countless unknowns are part of a new reality for so many Ecuadorians.

Our partners in Ecuador are keeping us apprised of the conditions, and we are working in close conjunction with them to meet whatever needs we can. These situations remind us that this is one of the reasons Free Wheelchair Mission exists—to serve, to meet needs, to value and transform the lives of those who are living with disabilities in an inhospitable world.

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Thank you for having a heart for the nations—a heart for Ecuador—and for believing the gift of mobility can change lives.

Blessings,
Don Schoendorfer

Will you join us?

Greetings, Name, and Happy Friday!

On Thursday, July 28, Free Wheelchair Mission will hold its 13th annual Miracle of Mobility fundraising gala. This festive evening will feature inspiring stories of faith, hope and transformation and will include a very special guest speaker, Tim Tebow, who—like Free Wheelchair Mission—is passionate about serving those with disabilities around the world.

Tim Tebow, known for his accolades on the football field, is the son of missionaries, and even after moving to Florida as a child he returned to the Philippines as a teenager to spread God’s word and serve the needy. As a collegiate and professional athlete, he maintained his strong commitment to charitable pursuits. In 2010 he formed the Tim Tebow Foundation to bring Faith, Hope and Love to those in their darkest hour of need.

FridayStory_052016Operation Blessing—one of our distribution partners—has made two deliveries of FWM wheelchairs to the Tebow CURE Hospital in the Philippines. Charmaine is one of the patients who has been using a GEN_1 wheelchair as she recovers from surgery to correct her club foot. Though initially scared to undergo surgery, she was encouraged when she saw a classmate return to school after the same operation. At the end of May, Charmaine will be back at the Tebow CURE Hospital to have her progress checked and her casts removed, and hopefully she’ll be leaving the wheelchair behind and walking soon!

Stories like Charmaine’s are possible because of generous people like you supporting organizations—like FWM, Operation Blessing and Tebow CURE Hospital—who work together to transform lives.

These are the kinds of stories and collaborations we will be celebrating at Miracle of Mobility. We can’t wait to hear the message Tim Tebow will bring, and we hope you will join us on July 28!

Blessings,
Don Schoendorfer

P.S. Will you help us spread the word about Miracle of Mobility? It’s easy, just forward this email to a friend. It will be a great night, and we hope you’ll be a part of it!

 

Seeing Firsthand

Last week Angela, our National Development Director, was on vacation with her family in Mexico, and she sent our staff the following email:

My family and I have had a great time soaking up the Yucatán sun. We couldn’t miss the opportunity to visit the amazing Mayan Ruins of Chichen Itza, which was one of the largest Mayan cities located in the eastern portion of Yucatán state in Mexico.

It took 2.5 hours on a bus to arrive to our destination. The road trip reminded me of many mission trips I’ve been on because we got to see the “true” Mexico away from all the resorts along the beach. 

luiz arroyaAlong the way one of our stops was in the small town of Valladolid. This is where you will see the majority of the townspeople still using the typical dress of the Mayans, and the buildings around the Main Plaza painted pastel colors.

Most of the tourists went shopping while we were eager to see the very old Catholic Church of San Servacio since it was Sunday and a service was going on. As we walked out of the church we encountered a young man seated in one of our GEN_2 wheelchairs! It was such an amazing moment for me to find him randomly. Luiz was 24 years old and couldn’t really talk. He had gotten into a really bad fight and lost his ability to walk 10 years earlier. He got his wheelchair 4 years earlier. You could tell he has a lot of miles on it. His mother was sitting behind him. We chatted for several minutes. For me it was so special because my kids and hubby got to see our work in action. My kids got to see firsthand what we do. Thank you everyone for all your hard work!!!

And thank you for your generous support that makes each and every wheelchair a life-changing reality for people around the world.

Blessings,
Don Schoendorfer

Thankful for Moms

It’s almost Mother’s Day. We wouldn’t be here without moms. They are the backbone of daily life whether they’re parenting their own children, helping a neighbor or running a business.

And moms are always present at wheelchair distributions. Sometimes they arrive carrying their children and sometimes they are the ones being carried, but they always leave with the joy of newfound mobility. Whether it’s the mother or the child seated in the wheelchair, they are both more free and independent than they were when they arrived.

Many of the recipient stories we receive include the gratitude of mothers. They are so appreciative of the new opportunities their children have and the physical burden that has eased since they no longer have to carry their child everywhere. And when moms are the recipients, they are so grateful they are no longer a burden on their families. Some of the biggest smiles on distribution days are on the mothers’ faces.

FridayStory_050616Thank you for changing the lives of mothers around the world through the gift of mobility!

Blessings,
Don Schoendorfer

Dreams Coming True

Trinh is a go-getter. Though born with spina bifida and never able to walk, Trinh was always on the move. His crawling ultimately caused an ulcer on his left leg, and doctors had to amputate part of his leg in 2012.

FS Trinh Minh ChungShortly after his surgery our partner in Vietnam, Giving It Back to Kids (GIBTK), was able to give him a GEN_1 wheelchair. Trinh was on the move again.

And then, in 2014, GIBTK traded out his GEN_1 wheelchair for a GEN_3. He began going 500 meters each way to his uncle’s shop to learn electrical mechanics. He spends three hours each morning learning, then he heads home to prepare lunch for his family, and then he spends another two hours in the afternoon practicing in the shop.

When asked if the work and commuting two kilometers a day is tiring, Trinh said no. It is his passion to learn so that one day he can open his own business. He has a vision and a plan!

Trinh is one of many people seeing his dreams become reality through the simple gift of mobility. Thank you, our generous supporters, for being a part of life transformations!

Blessings,
Don Schoendorfer

Changing a Future Together

As a recent wheelchair distribution in China wrapped up, a thirteen-year-old boy in his new GEN_2 wheelchair seemed upset. One of our partners from Henan Disabled Person’s Federation (HDPF) went over to check on him, and his story spilled out.

Tao JingTao’s legs are paralyzed, and his father struggles to make ends meet. By the time Tao was in second grade, they could no longer afford to send him to school. Ever since Tao has been confined to their house. When his father heard about the chance to get a wheelchair they arrived early, and they were both thrilled to receive the wheelchair. Then Tao realized the wheelchair meant he could leave the house, but it didn’t mean he could return to school. His father felt guilty that he still couldn’t afford to give his son the education he wanted so badly.

Several HDPF leaders gathered, and they committed to pay Tao’s school tuition. They even asked Pastor Liu and his volunteers if they would be willing to push Tao in his wheelchair to and from school every day, and they agreed. Tao and his father were overwhelmed by the generosity of HDPF and the church.

In one day Tao received the gift of mobility and so much more—his entire future changed! As we supply wheelchairs, we also supply opportunities for communities to rally together and solve the greater issues around disability.

Thank you for your generosity that makes moments like these possible!

Blessings,
Don Schoendorfer

P.S. Will you join us in our month-long celebration of FWM’s 15th Anniversary and the legacy our supporters are creating and make FWM part of your legacy today?

From Exhaustion to Elation

Our partner in Burundi, Food for the Hungry (FH), sent us Abraham’s story. FH staff members regularly passed by Abraham sitting by the side of the road. That was his office where he fixed old shoes for people.

On the ground next to Abraham was a rudimentary wooden “bicycle” complete with hand-carved wooden wheels. Abraham sat on the bike and pushed himself with one hand to propel himself 1.5 km each way to and from his home to his place of business.

At 47 years old, Abraham is very familiar with disability. He has never walked, and despite the pain of riding his bike, it’s an improvement over the exhaustion of crawling.

When FH gave Abraham a GEN_2 wheelchair, he was ecstatic! Not only could he get to and from work without pain, he could work with much less fatigue seated in his wheelchair.

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“I do not have the words to describe what I feel. Just imagine all those years I have spent on this piece of wood, and you will understand why I am so happy. Please tell the donors that I am very grateful!”

Thank you, our supporters, for your commitment to giving the gift of mobility to Abrahams all around the world. Together we are changing lives!

Blessings,
Don Schoendorfer

P.S. As we continue our month-long celebration of FWM’s 15th Anniversary and the legacy our supporters are creating. Will you make FWM part of your legacy today?