Rotary Club Belize received a donation of almost 300 wheelchairs from the Chair the Love organization, based in the US. The chairs were handed over in a ceremony at Old Belize on the George Price Highway. Glenn Mather, the founder of the organization, told us why they chose to donate wheelchairs.
Glen Mather, Founder, Chair the Love: “A long time ago I went to on my first distribution about 12-13 years ago and I saw what a wheelchair did for a family, it not only changed the person that got the wheelchair but it changed their family. It changed what they got to do and so in our case we like to go home we raise money and we deliver freedom for people to be able to move about in their city, village and be able to do things that they just couldn’t do before. I’ve been here three times before and I will tell you quite honestly this country really means a lot to me. I love the differences between the islands and the mainland, the people have always been very kind and gracious to me and when I heard there was a need here in this country I couldn’t wait to raise the money and bring 280 chairs with us and some friends so that they could get to know your country too. It takes about a year because we have to raise the funds and it costs $42,000 for a container load or 280 chairs, then they’re built at the factory then they go on a container ship and they’re shipped to Belize. They have to go through the port and go through the entry port and then the Rotarians all throughout that same year have to determine who really needs the chairs. So it’s very important that we work locally because we don’t want to deliver them to the government we want to deliver them to the people and through the hard work of Rotary their mission is to give and to change the communities and we love working with Rotary because they make sure that the chairs go to the right people.”
Felix Reyes, the current president of Rotary Belize, told us how a family can benefit from one of these wheelchairs.
Felix Reyes, President, Rotary Club Belize: “As we speak this is our 280 wheelchairs that we’re going to distribute and we’ve been distributing over 3,000 so far. You know we team up with these different clubs, Canada, the United States well this is Chair the Love’s team that is coming right now to distribute the 280 but we always keep close to the Wheelchair Foundation also which is purely wheelchairs for distributions in other needy countries like Belize. We have a perfect distribution channel which involves us as the hub receive the shipment and then we parcel it off and distribute it to the different clubs in Belize. So whoever wants a wheelchair in the district or anywhere just contact a representative from their rotary club in their district and they could get them a wheelchair. Everybody has a big appreciation that in fact wheelchairs are their own mode of mobility and when they know that someone is thinking about them, because wheelchairs don’t last forever you need to change as time goes by and they get worn out so yeah they’re extatic and they really feel comfortable that they have a new wheelchair and it will be a little bit easier because new things are easier to maneuver and it’s all in tip top shape, so yeah it’s all smiles.”
Chair the Love has been operating for about three and a half years.