Club funds wheelchairs for Panama



wheelchairBAR HARBOR — The Bar Harbor (MDI) Rotary Club is teaming up with the Ellsworth Rotary Club on an international project to provide wheelchairs for people in Panama.

As well as purchasing wheelchairs with proceeds from local fundraising, the clubs have been approved for a grant for this Rotary District. Members from each of the clubs will be traveling to Panama from March 14-21, 2015 to help distribute wheelchairs. The project is a collaboration of Rotary International and The Wheelchair Foundation.

The Wheelchair Foundation is a nonprofit organization leading an international effort to create awareness of the needs and abilities of people with physical disabilities, to promote the joy of giving, to create global friendship and to deliver a wheelchair to every child, teen and adult in the world who needs one but cannot afford one.

Susana Davis of Bar Harbor is the international chair for the club and was born and raised in Panama. “The last thing I thought when I came to this country was that I would become the International Committee chair for the local Rotary club. That was an honor that I didn’t hesitate to grab.”

It is estimated that at least 100 million children, teens and adults worldwide need a wheelchair but cannot afford one. Some international organizations believe that the number could be as high as 6 percent of the population of developing countries. The foundation can purchase and deliver a wheelchair to our distribution partners worldwide for an average of $150. A wheelchair of this type sells for up to $1,700 U.S. in some developing countries.

“Last January, I visited Panama and met with the Rotary club there,” Davis said.

“We discussed the opportunity to do something together. They mentioned that they would like to have a wheelchair bank. The request for wheelchairs to them is very demanding, and they know how to allocate them to people who are really in need of this. I think as a Rotarian the most important thing is (to do a) “Hands on Project.” It brings Rotarians together for the common good of others. For me, this project is about bringing the gift of mobility. Mobility is life; mobility is independence.

“I am very excited and honored to lead this project. I can’t wait to see the results first hand. Seeing the look on the faces of those in need will be priceless.”

For those who want to learn more about the wheelchair project and other Rotary projects, visit mdirotary.org or attend a weekly Rotary meeting. Information about meetings is posted on the club’s Facebook page and website.

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