The Rotary Club of Fresno has been involved for several years in the distribution in third world countries of wheelchairs assisting those in need. The Wheelchair Committee of the Rotary Club of Fresno thanks the efforts and generosity of its members, Rotary District 5230, Rotary International, and the Wheelchair Foundation for their support and participation in this project.
Since 2003, 2,940 wheelchairs have been delivered by our members to Burundi, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe. In 2011 we will deliver a further 100 wheelchairs to Swaziland and 280 wheelchairs to South Africa.
Recognition is provided for each $150 or more contributed in the form of a beautiful gold embossed Presentation Folder containing the photo of a wheelchair recipient with their name, age, country and a certificate thanking the donor. These folders make excellent holiday, birthday, anniversary, graduation or commemorative gifts. Folders can be inscribed to the donor, or an acknowledgement, of the donation in honor of, memory of, or in the name of a special person in your life. As a gift to each of our speakers, a wheelchair is donated in their name and they are presented with a picture of the recipient.
In February 2007 a group of eight Fresno Rotarians and others spent between one and three weeks in Kigali, Rwanda and the surrounding countryside to deliver wheelchairs. This delivery was a joint effort of the Rotary Club of Kigali and the Rotary Club of Fresno. During this visit we also reviewed our very successful solar and integrated cooking programs and presented to the Women’s Club’s of Rwanda 40 sewing machines to use in the making of hay baskets (thermos) for those programs.
The wheelchairs that are distributed are obtained through the Wheelchair Foundation and are all newly manufactured by several factories in Asia. They are specifically designed for use in developing countries on unimproved or non-existent roads.
Project Nino (Spanish for child) started in 1985 out of the desire to provide medical help to the children who had been affected by the Mexico earthquake of 1985. The project now serves children who otherwise would have very limited access to medical care. It also has had an impact on the everyday lives of the people we serve. The highlight of the project is the clinic itself. It takes place in Santiago de Tautla, a small village forty-five miles north of Mexico City. Santiago de Tautla is a very poor village where many of the homes do not have lights, running water or other modern conveniences. Each year in August, a group of physicians, dentists, optometrists, nurses, and psychologists from Fresno turn the village elementary school into a clinic. Our Mexican Rotary partner in Project Nino is the Rotary Club of Tlalnepantla, Mexico.
Once the free clinic opens in the village school, several thousand children are seen over the next five days. For most of the children, the clinic is their only medical care and some families walk for days to get to the village. Medical problems are treated or referred for care. Dental restorations or extractions are performed and dental hygiene lectures are given to try to prevent future problems. Eye examinations are performed and eyeglasses provided to those in need. Public health lectures are provided to help the people understand better what they can do to prevent illness. Psychologists have been a recent addition. They help parents deal with the behavior problems of their children. A pharmacy stocked by most donated medicines is able to provide the medicines needed to treat most common ailments. For those conditions we cannot treat, we arrange referrals to local hospitals, the National Institute of Pediatrics, or the Shriner’s Hospital in Mexico City. With the help of our Mexican Rotarians, arrangements are made to see the children get the specialized care they need. The clinic itself is furnished with donated equipment, which is shipped from Fresno. The villagers prepare the school. The school now has electricity, working toilets, landscaping, and fresh paint and it has recently formed a PTA.
Another portion of the project is a series of seminars conducted at Mexico City hospitals. One series is for doctors. Another is for nurses. Using simultaneous translation, topics previously selected by the Mexican health care professionals are presented by doctors and nurses from the Central California area. These post graduate seminars are consistently over registered. The seminars for the doctors and nurses are so popular that each year larger quarters are needed. The most notable achievement of 2001 was our expansion of the nursing course. The Rotary Clubs in Mexico rented a large conference room so we could accommodate 220 nurses. There is very little post-graduate training for nurses, so our participants come from all over Mexico.
For those that would like specific numbers, during the 2001 trip we served nearly 5,000 children. We dispensed 2,500 prescriptions and over 1000 pair of glasses. We provided seminars for 150 doctors and seminars for over 200 nurses. Our team consisted of 24 health care professionals and an additional 20 auxiliary staff. The long term benefits are incalculable. The general health of the families and children within a 200 mile radius of the village is remarkably improved. The “Gueros” (blond hair doctors) as all the health care professionals are known in the village, are an example of Rotary in Action.
“This project is really good. The way they treat us, all the support you bring us, and the help with medicines and wheelchairs. For all of this, we are really grateful and specially for the effort of coming all the way here to give us your support. Thank you so much for receiving us”.
– Fortunata A. H
“This is my first time in this project and the doctors are really nice and the treat us really well. I’m glad we came”.
– Minerva Tepox Marcial
“I would like to recognize this laudable work you offer us as well as thanking you infinitely for helping us accept and value our kid’s problem and precious life. Thank you for your support and for helping us discover this little treasure in my family”.
– David Maguria
“It’s a great satisfaction to see people that are not from our country worrying so much about our children and their health. God Bless you forever, you are the most wonderful people that I have know”.
– Violet Lujan Ortie
“I want to thank you all from the bottom of my heart for bringing us your support and compassion for giving the kids such good care, just like you do with my little brothers who needs a lot from you. God Bless you”.
-Marina Migueles Olguin
“I want to thank all of you for your attention and compassion and gentleness. Keep doing what you do because it’s such honorable work”.
– Beatriz Cruz Volp
“I give thanks to God for sharing with us such special angels like you. I’ve been coming for two years now with my kid that needs a special medicine which has helped him a lot. Thank you God Bless you”.
“My experience here has been really beautiful because you treat us so nicely and help us a lot. You give us faith and hope and make us believe that we can get through anything. Thank you”.
– Luis Angel Almareu