The Knights of Columbus of California have a very strong connection with the residents of the Philippines. Over 1 million Filipinos live in California and many are members of the Knights.
The first “Wheelchair Sunday” parish drive to benefit the physically disabled citizens of the Philippines was held at St. Denis Catholic Community in Diamond Bar, CA in 2008 and the most recent was at St. Michael Parish in Livermore, CA.
Earlier this year the first container of 280 wheelchairs, 200 pairs of crutches, 100 canes and 50 walkers was distributed in the Manila area and in Naga City. The Compassionate Franciscan Sisters of the Poor and their founder Mother Joan Clare Chin Loy are the official distribution partner for Knights sponsored wheelchairs and mobility aids in the Philippines.
Past California State Chaplain Msgr. Nestor Rebong and Oakland Chapter Advocate Rey Tianero Joined the American Wheelchair Mission team and were hands on participants in the distribution process.
Bishop Deogracias Iniguez of Kalookan and local Knights from council 6155 hosted mass and a wheelchair distribution at the San Roque Cathedral and welcomed visiting Knights from surrounding councils who participated in every aspect of the wheelchair delivery process.
Wheelchair recipients included many residents from the slums of Malabon. This is an area outside of Manila where the city dump was located until several years ago. Approximately 40,000 people live in what was the dump and have built a community that previously survived on the scavenging of any saleable discarded item. Families have between six and ten children each, and often cannot afford to feed them.
Part of the mission of the Compassionate Franciscan Sisters of the Poor is to feed approximately 350 children per day in their small facility next to the former dump. This is the only meal most children get per day, and the sisters care for them with loving care. The approximately $8,000 per month needed to feed the children is raised by supporting women’s organizations such as the Light of Malabon (LIMA) Foundation and others.
The home visits to deliver wheelchairs took the team into some of the most crowded and cramped slums imaginable. One of the sisters commented, “These people live from day to day and never go anywhere if they can’t walk. These wheelchairs are most definitely the answer to many prayers.”
The Knights of Our Lady of the Snows Council 6155 saw the first wheelchair distributions as a way to get more involved with the most needy members of their local community and pledged to develop the first “Wheelchair Sunday” parish drives in the Philippines to bring more awareness about the need for mobility and to raise enough money to sponsor another container of 280 wheelchairs.
The second container of wheelchairs is being delivered in July and August in the Manila area and Naga City and Knights councils throughout the areas are attending the distributions.
Mother Joan spoke at the first wheelchair distribution and said, “We are all called by the Lord to tend to his children, and those who answer His call receive gifts beyond imagination. All of you Knights of Columbus have blessed us with your generosity, and we send all of our love and prayers and gratitude to you in return.”
The American Wheelchair Mission is committed to providing wheelchairs and mobility aids to the physically disabled citizens of the Philippines. Please contact us to find out how easy it is to get involved in changing the lives of entire families. You CAN and WILL be the answer to their prayers.
Please visit Randy Hale’s photo gallery here: http://www.photoknight.net/Gwm/Philippine-Distributions-March for more distribution pictures from this trip.