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The Barberton Ohio Rotary Club joins the Modesto California and the Zapopan Mexico Rotary Clubs in a joint project from10/28-11/3/2012

UPublish story by Ruth Kaser

Members of Barberton Ohio Rotary Club joined members of Modesto California and the Zapopan Mexico Rotary Clubs in a joint project from October 28 to November 2 of 2012 to distribute wheelchairs to needy disabled persons. The purpose of the project was to provide 116 specially designed pediatric wheel chairs to accommodate the needs of developmentally disabled children in west central Mexico, 84 wheelchairs for disabled adults, 45 walkers, 40 pairs of crutches, 60 quad/standard walking aids, patient rehab equipment, and wheelchair parts and accessories. The children and adults in need were identified by members of the Rotary Club of Zapopan in conjunction with Hope Haven International and local medical professional referrals. There is a deep need for these disability aids as the children either have no wheel chair, or have an aged chair that is not pediatric sensitive to their needs. Some of the disabilities include amputation, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, spina bifida and other crippling diseases.

Hope Haven International is the organization from which the pediatric wheelchairs were produced. They have a unique wheel chair ministry. They train the disabled in developing nations how to maintain and rebuild wheel chairs. They have established a pilot project wheel chair maintenance and construction operation in Guatemala that is manned by the disabled.

The wheel chair distribution occurred at a school in Guadalajara from Monday, October 29 through Thursday, November 2. A team of 16 persons including Rotarians and support staff(wheel chair fitters, physical therapist) spent the week assembling and fitting the chairs to adults and children.

Don and Ruth Kaser joined the team representing the Barberton Rotary Club and left Ohio just missing Hurricane Sandy descending on the East coast. They arrived in Guadalajara after a day of airplane travel. The chairs were distributed and fitted at a school in Guadalajara. At the start of the week the team members unboxed and began to assemble the wheelchairs. Each evening the undistributed chairs were stored in the school. The days consisted of arriving at the school in the morning; and then fitting the children or adults scheduled for that day. The children were triaged to the wheelchair teams by difficulty of fit. Some children’s conditions warrant the expertise of the wheelchair fitters and the physical therapist. Other children, while in need of a wheelchair had a pretty straightforward fit requirement. Some of the children arrived being carried in their parents arms, but several were carried over a mothers shoulder as one would a heavy sack. Some parents were able to borrow a chair temporarily; some arrived in Hope Haven chairs having outgrown their existing chair.

One day-our longest found us working until 8pm. Unfortunately that was the evening of the reception by the Zapopan Rotary Club. We enjoyed the hospitality of the club members, exchanged flags and gifts. At the end of our final day of distribution we had sent home 209 chairs with new owners.

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