Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Back to School in Morocco!

Distribution partners are a key link in getting wheelchairs from the factory to the people that need them. Today’s story comes from Morocco, and our primary partner in the region, Gateway Medical Alliance. GMA works in a variety of medical interventions and has served the people of Morocco with wheelchair distribution since 2006; we are proud to partner with these dedicated humanitarians.

Amine is an eight year old boy that one of our local advocates brought to our attention. Struggling with mobility as a result of cerebral palsy, he was definitely in need of physical therapy, so we began giving him sessions here at our local center.

In addition, we brought him a wheelchair to enhance his mobility. Although he is able to walk slowly if someone holds both hands and stabilizes him, he falls a lot and lacks motor control over his lower limbs. Because of the wheelchair, Amine can now safely navigate his world. Most importantly, he is now able to get to school and back, allowing him to re-enroll in elementary school. There are very limited accommodations for the handicapped in Morocco; if they are not able to get to school and move in and out of the classrooms independently, the teachers just ask them to stay at home.

This gift not only gave Amine mobility around the house and with his friends, it allowed him to begin therapy and enroll again in school, thus improving his health and broadening his future. Thanks to FWM for making a difference!
Education is the most valuable way children can have a chance to pull themselves out of the cycle of poverty. But, without mobility, the classroom can be out of reach. In Morocco and around the developing world, a wheelchair can make all the difference.

Friday, September 9, 2011

The Match Is Back!

Last year, one of our most exciting campaigns was our Matching Gift Challenge! It was a chance for our friends and supporters to have every dollar matched, effectively doubling their gift and sending twice the wheelchairs around the world. It was a tremendous success and very exciting!

Well, now it’s September again, and I’m happy to share with you that the Match is Back!! Starting today, thanks to our generous benefactors who have provided the matching funds, we will again be able to double your donations. When you donate one wheelchair for $63.94, we match it to become two. Donate five wheelchairs and we match them to become ten. If we match every dollar, the Matching Gift Challenge has the power to send 5,500 wheelchairs around the world – changing 5,500 lives forever.

The Match is Back and it’s a great time to make a difference – but only if you donate before October 31, 2011. Let’s take on this challenge, make some smiles like the beautiful ones in this photo, and change thousands of lives forever.

God bless, Don

Friday, September 2, 2011

Stories and faces from Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is a country of just under 7 million people located on the eastern half of the island New Guinea in the south Pacific. It’s a beautiful area and one of the world’s least explored countries; unfortunately, many of its people live in extreme poverty. Our partner in the region, the Foundation for Rural Development (FORD), has distributed over a thousand wheelchairs, and they shared with us these photos and stories:

Little Israel had meningitis due to a malaria attack when he was young. As a result, he has a weak back and has been hand held for most of life. He is seen here enjoying his first wheelchair ride.

Pawa was born a paraplegic. Now almost 25 years old, she is from Jimi, one of the most remote spots in the Western Highlands Province. It was a challenge to deliver wheelchairs to this particular location.

Ishameal was an able-bodied teenager, until lapsing into a coma at the age of 16. He was diagnosed with spinal TB and became paralyzed from the waist down. Now 22, he’s finally returned to mobility and independence.

Our partners around the world are a vital link in the chain as wheelchairs are rolled out to the people who need them the most. We are grateful to FORD and to our many partners in the field for their dedication to the cause – in 81 countries, they’re helping make a difference, lifting people with disabilities to a better tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

“ amazing day of grace . . .opening the door to so many possibilities ahead.” - Reflections on Fishfest 2011

Thanks so much to our founder and president, Don Schoendorfer, for sharing his memories of FWM’s experience at Fishfest 2011!

Saturday, June 25th at Irvine’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, was an extraordinary day for all of us at Free Wheelchair Mission.  As the featured charity of Fishfest 2011, we enjoyed an afternoon that spilled into evening filled with great music, brilliant sunshine, the joy of new friendships and the blessings of . . .well, those not so new!

Like most events, it was a long day, starting early as we drove the vans up the access lanes and into the venue, packed full with banners and signs and boxes of every size.  We pitched pop-ups and set up tables, assembled signs and handed out name badges, pushed wheelchairs into position, set out water bottles for the volunteers, and dragged around helium tanks for the balloons.  A long day indeed, wrapping up well past midnight as we undid all of the above, packing up the vans to head back home. 

In between all this setting up and tearing down, though, it was a picture-perfect day full of memorable moments:

  • An army of volunteers in blue shirts ready to pitch in and help.
  • An oasis of shade at the FWM booth, a cool welcome to passers-by.
  • The sight of our colorful FWM banners spinning in the wind on a breezy day.
  • Baskets of black FWM wristbands migrating to the crowds and uniting us all in a common bond.
  • Music from the sound system, filling the air with praise and inspiration.
  • An amphitheatre filled to the brim with over 16,000 enthusiastic concert goers
  • Pastor Kenton Beshore’s powerful message from the stage, stirring the crowd and spreading the word.
  • The first public reaction to our new video – “We Just Have To Go Back” – visibly touching the crowd and opening hearts and minds to the mission.
  • A trail of blue balloons bobbing about, sharing our Face of the Mission cards with the concert goers, collecting hundreds of wheelchairs to send around the world.
  • The inaugural launch of our “Text to Give” program – and the immediate wave of generosity that followed, raising over $1800 in the first minutes it went live.

Fishfest 2011 proved to be an amazing day of grace, as Pastor Kenton reflected, “opening the door” to so many possibilities ahead.  We are grateful to Transparent Productions and 95.9 the FISH, and thank them for sharing with us this powerful opportunity.

God Bless,