In late March a group of 26 Rotarians and their families from Springdale, Arkansas and across District 6110 traveled to Panama City, Panama to deliver mobility into the lives of children, teens and adults in need of a wheelchair, but without the means to afford one.

Travelling by bus through the Panamanian backcountry, the team set out early the first morning en route to a small town called Pesé, located in the Herrera region of Panama. A distribution of wheelchairs was held in a community center and many lives were changed for the better.

As the bus arrived in Anton, the eager team of Rotarians was greeted by their local hosts, given a quick bite to eat and then broken up into groups of three. These small groups then dispersed in all directions, up to 30 miles into the surrounding mountains on home visits, bringing wheelchairs to those people unable to venture outside their homes. The gratitude of the people was nothing short of monumental, and after a long day in the hot sun, the teams felt not only accomplished, but touched by the immediate impact they had just had on so many lives.

The following day proved to be equally productive as the bus made the four-hour expedition back to Panama City, stopping along the way for a distribution of wheelchairs in Chitre and more home visits. “It really moved me that we were able to help that many people in such a small but incredibly powerful way,” explained Mary Beth Hill, 19 year-old daughter of Springdale Rotarian Ruthanne Hill. “The home visits that we did on Thursday were, well… it’s hard for me to describe what that meant to me and how that touched my heart. I’m glad that we were able to go out on our own like that and just immerse ourselves in the heart of the mission and in the lives of the people that we met.”

Over the course of that short trip to Panama, 280 wheelchairs were delivered, many more hundred lives were changed, and the priceless experience of giving someone a new wheelchair was taken home with each of the Rotarians. Every wheelchair distributed has an immediate and tangible impact on the recipient’s life. It enables them to be part of their community once again, allowing kids to go to school, adults to go to work and provide for their family, and the elderly to get out of a bed they’ve sometimes been in for five, ten or even fifteen years.

Mobility is being given, prayers are being answered and lives are being changed! Many thanks to the Rotarians of Springdale, Arkansas and District 6110 for their continued support, and selfless generosity to the poorest of the poor.