In 2013, the American Wheelchair Mission has provided more than 1,000 wheelchairs, 412 pairs of crutches, 406 canes, and 200 walkers to needy recipients in Bulacan, Manila and Naga City on the Island of Luzon and Davao City on the Island of Mindanao.
All of the wheelchairs and mobility aids were sponsored by the efforts of California Knights of Columbus, their local parishes, and by 2012-2013 California State Deputy Ray Warriner and his wife Purita, with their ‘Project Mobility for the Philippines.” This project raised funding for 560 of the wheelchairs and half of the mobility devices.
“Wheelchair Sunday” parish drives at St. Joan of Arc in San Ramon, and other parishes around the state sponsored the rest of the mobility aids.
Mother Joan Clare Chin Loy of the Compassionate Franciscan Sisters of the Poor is our primary distribution partner for Manila and her home base of Naga City, as well as Fr. Joel Tabora, President of the Ateneo de Davao University, assisted by Jeremy “Bong” Eliab who expertly coordinated our distribution efforts in Davao City. In Bulacan, Bernardita “Bien” Mendoza and her family coordinated all of the distributions with the local parishes, hospitals, and social outreach for the poor. We could not do what we do without these valuable partners, who we owe our deepest gratitude.
On the distribution trip in April and May that took us to four cities on two islands, Fr. John Neneman, California State Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus and brother Knight Fr. Gaylord Reyes joined us and participated in the distribution of the wheelchairs.
We were invited to dinner by Bishop Mylo Vergara in Manila, and met with Archbishop Rolando Tirona in Naga City. They were both very interested in helping us further our mission in the Philippines.
Mother Joan and her sisters operate the Queen of Peace Orphanage and Formation Center in Naga, as well as a community center, school and chapel in the dumpsite village in Naga. They operate a day care and feeding center for the children in the Malabon dumpsite near Manila, which has a population of 40,000.
“This experience in the Philippines opened my eyes to the true meaning of the word poor,” said Fr. John after our visit to the dumpsite near Manila, “We are changing lives with mobility, and answering prayers of entire families with the gift of these wheelchairs. We have to just keep doing it as much as we can.”
The American Wheelchair Mission thanks the California Knights, their families and all of the parishioners who have supported our missions to the Philippines. You are allowing us to be tools in God’s hands doing his work on earth, and we will work harder to do even more.