Hope and Transformation

Mrs. Tria has known great tragedy and major adversity in her 88 years. She lives with her son and his family in central Vietnam, because her husband died in the war in 1968 and she never remarried. Three years ago, at the age of 85, her feet became curved and her joints became stuck, making it impossible for her to stand or walk.

Her son built a “skateboard” – basically a wooden board with four small wheels – so that Mrs. Tria could slide herself around the house. For the last three years, this simple board was the only way that she could move about her house because her son and his family go to work every day.

Despite her disability and old age, Mrs. Tria has a sound mind. But she felt hopeless and needed help. Everything changed when Tria received her first wheelchair, a GEN_2 wheelchair from Free Wheelchair Mission delivered by our distribution partner, Giving It Back to Kids.

FridayStory_090516Her family and neighbors were very happy for her, but Tria initially struggled to propel herself in the wheelchair. When she first sat in the wheelchair, Mrs. Tria tried to move on her own but she hit the wall several times because one of her arms is weaker than the other.

A lifetime of challenges has taught Mrs. Tria to persevere, and she refused to give up. She learned how to propel the wheelchair by herself, and now she is able to use it visit her neighbors and relatives. As you can see, she loves moving!

Mrs. Tria said, “I can’t say in words, but I’m very grateful for your giving me the wheelchair. I spent three years on the skateboard and now everything is easier.”

Thank you for your generosity! Your donation is providing the transforming gift of mobility to Mrs. Tria and other people like her all around the world.

Blessings,

Don Schoendorfer

P.S. In case you haven’t heard, last week’s Miracle of Mobility event raised more than $1.5 million – enough to transform the lives of more than 19,000 people!

Regaining Mobility

As an orphan, Francine never really had anyone to care for her properly. An illness in the 6th grade resulted in her losing strength in both her legs. After a six-month stay in the hospital, Francine moved to a center for people with disabilities. There she received a brace for her left leg, but both her legs were so weak she still couldn’t stand.Francine2

In 2012, Francine moved in with a host family, where she still lives. At 28 years old, Francine received her own GEN_2 wheelchair from our distribution partner, Food for the Hungry, and she regained her mobility!

In her words, “The wheelchair is very useful to me because it allows me to move myself around without demanding support from my hosting family. I will visit places around this home, talk to neighbors to break my isolation and loneliness. I will be able to take myself to the health center. As I did not have a wheelchair, I used to borrow from someone who lives one kilometer away from here whenever I had an urgent place to go. Please tell the donor that I am very grateful.”

Free Wheelchair Mission echoes the same gratitude to you, our supporters. Thank you for bringing dignity back to Francine and so many others, as you give the gift of mobility!

Blessings,

Don Schoendorfer

P.S. We have less than a week until Miracle of Mobility, we look forward to seeing you there!

Mobility in Many Ways

At Free Wheelchair Mission, our mission is to provide the transforming gift of mobility to people with disabilities in developing nations as motivated by Jesus Christ. As our name suggests, the transforming gift most often comes in the shape of a wheelchair, but did you know we also provide mobility through other means?

Every year FWM ships a few containers filled with medical supplies. This is a critical part of our mission because some people need mobility assistance other than a wheelchair. For some, a surgery can prevent or reduce the severity of a disability and sometimes prevent the need for a wheelchair entirely. Our distribution partners are often involved in a variety of efforts to tackle disability issues in their countries, and our assistance with medical supplies can help them forge key partnerships to better serve a wider population of people with disabilities.

FridayStory_071516In Vietnam, Nhung was a single mom raising twins in a one-room home in Gia Lai province. Then she broke her leg in an accident and it healed incorrectly. Every movement caused pain, and as she compensated for the pain by adjusting the way she walked, the injury became worse. Our distribution partner, Giving It Back To Kids (GIBTK), helped arrange for Nhung to have surgery at Da Nang Orthopedic and Rehabilitation Hospital, and surgeons performed the operation using the supplies we sent.

After the surgery and a week of therapy relearning how to walk correctly, Nhung was discharged from the hospital at the end of March. Her mobility has been restored, and she is now home caring for her children.

Nhung was overjoyed as she said, “I am so blessed to get my surgery done successfully. I would like to send my sincerest thankfulness to the doctors, FWM and GIBTK for changing my life!”

Thank you for your support that transforms the lives of people with disabilities through the gift of mobility both through wheelchairs and medical supplies!

Blessings,
Don Schoendorfer

P.S. Miracle of Mobility is less than two weeks away—we hope you’ll join us!

A Mother and Son’s Joy

With all the turmoil and distress in the world, it can be easy to miss the stories of lives being changed for the better. These reports don’t make the international news, but they are happening every day as our distribution partners work around the globe providing the gift of mobility.

In Peru, our partner Camino de Vida (CDV) met Christian. For nine years, his mother carried him on her back, and she was exhausted. She had lost hope that she would be able to continue providing for him as he got older. When she heard a church was going to be distributing wheelchairs in her small community, she filled out an application. She explained her son was a lively young boy with a zeal for life, but since birth he been unable to move on his own. She could manage when he was baby, but the stronger and more energetic he became, the bigger the challenge it had become to take him out of the house. FridayStory_070816

CDV let Christian’s mother know they had a wheelchair specifically for him. When the distribution day arrived, Christian and his mom were the first two to arrive. Finally, Christian was going to be able to move around and explore the world on his own!

Christian’s eyes lit up when he sat in his wheelchair for the first time. The level of attention and detail the CDV staff provided ensured Christian’s wheelchair was the best possible fit and was adjusted for his specific needs. His mom watched as the church took time to work with and care for Christian and his needs. The church showed the love of Christ to her and to Christian by meeting a physical need. Then they prayed over Christian and his mom and showed them that God cares so deeply for them both and that this wheelchair is a representation of his love and provision.

And Christian’s story is one of thousands made possible by your generous support—thank you for being part of life transformations!

Blessings,

Don Schoendorfer

P.S. Miracle of Mobility is almost here! There is still time to join us.

Enhancing the Freedom of Others

As we celebrate this Independence Day we remember that many people around the world are living lives of dependence.

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What a privilege we have to live freely and to transform lives with the gift of mobility. Because of your generous support more than 38,000 lives have been lifted from the ground so far in 2016—thank you!

Blessings,
Don Schoendorfer

P.S. We are less than a month away from our annual Miracle of Mobility. We hope you’ll join us and invite your friends, too!

Molly’s South America Trip Report

It takes a lot of work—and collaboration with our partners in each country—to make our dream of lifting people off the ground a reality. Much of that work takes place through emails and video calls, but some of it needs to happen face-to-face. One FWM staff member just returned from visiting partners in Ecuador, Peru and Argentina, and she’s excited to share some of the process and the value of training together in person. In Molly’s own words:

Each country and each Distribution Partner (DP) has a different set of circumstances, needs and cultural characteristics. Each FWM DP has a different team, style and approach in regards to their Wheelchair Program. What is so exciting for me is to see the ways our partners have introduced Wheelchair Programs in unique and creative ways. They have each assessed the needs of those with disabilities in their communities and are using their creativity to serve both the recipients and the families with dignity.

Molly for FSMany DPs are working tirelessly to include those who have previously been banished from their community, to remind each person of their value and worth in Jesus Christ, to show each person they too have something to contribute to their community and to advocate for those with disabilities who previously had no voice.

FWM’s commitment is to provide the tools needed to serve each individual with dignity and honor. This includes training our Distribution Partners on how to best prescribe and fit FWM wheelchairs to each recipient’s needs and training the recipient on how to use the wheelchair safely. It also includes trainings and demonstrations so the families learn how to care for those with disabilities, as well as providing support and spare parts to help keep the wheelchairs up and running as long as possible.

We still have a lot of work ahead of us to train and develop our Distribution Partners, but it is exciting to see the ways our partners are responding with excitement and enthusiasm as we work together to provide the life changing gift of mobility.

Thank you, our generous supporters, for the invaluable role you play in empowering our DPs to change lives.

Blessings,
Don Schoendorfer

P.S. Miracle of Mobility will be here in just over a month, and we know it will be an amazing night. We hope you’re planning to join us, and we hope you’re sharing the excitement with your family and friends!

 

Thankful for Dads

As Father’s Day approaches, I’m aware of how much weight is on the shoulders of the dads we work with around the world.

We see a lot of fathers at wheelchair distributions. Sometimes they are carrying their children or wives or parents to receive a wheelchair, and their joy at seeing their family members gain mobility is tremendous. But often dads arrive on distribution day, and they are in need themselves. Many men have suffered injuries or illnesses and lost their mobility. Because of that, many of them have lost the ability to provide for their families. They may be in pain physically but so many are more pained at their inability to work and care for their families. Many have lost all hope and feel guilt and shame that now their families must struggle to care for them.

Witnessing a father placed in a wheelchair is indescribable. Hope returns. The possibility of reentering their communities and the workforce washes over them. Relief floods their faces as they see their loved ones will no longer have to carry them. It is an amazing sight!

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This weekend as we honor fathers, we are so grateful for your generous support and desire to change the lives of dads around the world with the gift of mobility!

Blessings,
Don Schoendorfer

P.S. We are six weeks away from our annual Miracle of Mobility. We hope you’ll join us and invite your friends, too!