The Canadian Wheelchair Foundation estimates that there are at least 100 million children, teens and adults across the world, who need a wheelchair, but cannot afford one.
As a registered charity, the Canadian Wheelchair Foundation helps transform the lives of people by helping them with their mobility, one wheelchair at a time.
The Knights of Columbus is one of the foundation’s partners in delivering this gift of mobility.
Since 2003, the Knights of Columbus has sponsored the delivery of tens of thousands of wheelchairs to people in need all over the world.
In July 2016, a delegation from the B.C. and Yukon Knights of Columbus contributed to this exemplary legacy of compassion and community service.
Led by State Deputy Arcie Lim, the delegation travelled to the Philippines to deliver wheelchair across the country.
The delegation included State Community Director Frank Visentin and wife Susan, and former State Public Relations and Communications Chairman Edgar Ursua and wife Priscilla.
Lim is thankful for all who have made the mission a success.
“Everywhere we went, the show of hospitality from our hosts is truly commendable,” according to Lim.
“To share the gift of mobility is an experience beyond words can fully describe. The sharing of joy and of hope is an act worth trying in your lifetime,” Lim also said.
Lim added: “This journey of hope was made possible by you, and we thank you enormously for your kind generosity. Your help and donation made a difference in the lives of many people.”
Ursua reported on the mission in a special edition of the B.C. and Yukon Knights of Columbus newsletter, starting with the distribution in Pangasinan.
Wheelchairs were distributed on July 2 in Asingan, Pangasinan with the help of Knights of Columbus Council 10643. Neighbouring councils from District UO3 led by District Deputy Jose Bernabe Romero greeted the Canadian delegation.
“The distribution was held inside the Saint Louis Bertrand Church, founded by the Dominicans in 1669. We were privileged to have the event graced by the Most Rev. Jacinto A. Jose, Bishop of the Diocese of Urdaneta,” according to Ursua’s account.
“One of the recipients was a little boy with cerebral palsy. The joy that is evident on the faces of each recipient and their immediate family members makes any form of fatigue on our part disappear. It was a wonderful and emotional occasion and despite the very humid and hot weather, you see smile of thanks and happiness on everyone’s face,” Ursua wrote in his report.
Brother Rodolfo Antonio from British Columbia coordinated with the locals of Pangasinan Knights of Columbus in the distribution.
The next stop on July 3 was in Tarlac City. The delegation met up with Council 3655. In addition, Lim distributed wheelchairs in Concepcion, his birthplace.
Bishop Florentino Cinense, who is the Bishop Emeritus of Tarlac, graced the distribution in Tarlac City.
In his speech in Tarlac City, Visentin talked about what the mission meant for him.
“For me, this is a very humbling experience,” Visentin said.
According to Visentin, there were many individuals and organizations in Canada who have contributed to the purchase of the wheelchairs.
“I feel fortunate that I was chosen to be a part of the Philippines team and to actually be able to meet the recipients of these wheelchairs,” Visentin said.
The third leg of the journey on July 5 and July 6 was in Tacloban City in the province of Leyte. Monsignor Ben Catilogo blessed the wheelchairs at the opening ceremony held at the Sto. Nino Parish social hall in Tacloban City, Leyte, Philippines
The last stop was two back-to-back distribution days on July 7 and July 8 in Metro Manila.
The success of the mission has inspired Lim and the membership of the Knights of Columbus in British Columbia and Yukon. According to Lim, “To be able to share the gift of mobility creates a sense of accomplishment that pushes us to do more.”