The stadium was filled with volunteers moving big boxes, friends greeting each other, and families with children waiting patiently. At the American University in Managua, the wheelchairs were about to be distributed to people from all over Nicaragua. This project was carefully put together by the “Chair the Love” foundation who raised the funds and provided volunteers, the Managua-Tiscapa Rotary Club who stored the chairs and screened recipients, and last but not least, the Gran Pacifica Resort staff who hosted the volunteers and contributed half of the donations. This was the second trip to Nicaragua for Glen Mather and his team, with help from the NuView IRA company. Mr. Mather stated that the estimated need for wheelchairs worldwide is now around 100 million. The “Chair the Love” foundation has delivered one million wheelchairs in the last 13 years. That's 1% of the total wheelchairs needed in the whole world. That's pretty amazing for one foundation!
Approximately $45,000 worth of wheelchairs and equipment were donated during this trip; 250 chairs in Managua, and another 30 at the Roberto Clemente III Medical Clinic at Gran Pacifica Resort. The personal connections that the group made with the Nicaraguan families was truly wonderful. Many of the 32 volunteers associated with the “Chair the Love” foundation were first time visitors to Nicaragua, so here are some narratives about their time here.
Dr. Larry and Stephanie Brenner, both healthcare professionals, were first-timers. Stephanie loved the open country, mountains, and the people who were so welcoming to her. She said, “Nicaragua is a great place to relax, and get unplugged.” One of the Gran Pacifica staff members ending up becoming like a daughter to her. The couple plans to return to do additional volunteer medical work in the near future.
Two of the younger, first-time volunteers, Ashley Mather and Lauren McCoy stated, “all the Nicaraguans are very kind, friendly people, and are willing to work with you, even though our Spanish is not great.” They both plan to come back soon since they also fell in love with the people of Nicaragua.
A second-time visitor, Loida Mather, is a nurse with a particularly soft spot for children. The foundation was able to visit a children’s home while in Managua to re-establish relationships with the kids they had met the previous year. Loida mentioned that if she didn’t have a family that needed her back in the U.S., she would never want to leave!
All of the teenage volunteers had some great comments about their experience while in Nicaragua, but one teenager, Adam Mather, was really expressive about his time here. Adam especially loved Gran Pacifica Resort because of the activities available, such as horseback riding and surfing. When asked about his participation in the wheelchair donations, Adam said, “it was a great experience to be giving wheelchairs to people who can barely walk, they are going to be able to get around now. I saw the reactions on their faces when they received their wheelchairs, and what a positive change it will make in their lives.”
Understanding each other as fellow human beings begins with small endeavors, such as donating wheelchairs, and leads to long-term compassion that helps the whole world become a better place. Thank you “Chair the Love”!