Surrey student Naomi Gantug feels a sense of fulfillment after helping the Semiahmoo Rotary Club deliver 115 wheelchairs to children with disabilities to Hermosillo

Delivering Surrey’s spirit to Mexico

The next set of fundraising plans are already drawn, with the goal of delivering another round of wheelchairs in 2014.

I’ve heard that to whom much is given, much is expected.

Being one of today’s typical care-free 15-year-old girls, and often times admittedly a bit engulfed by my own sense of entitlement, I’ve never fully understood the meaning of this idea – until now.

Recently, four youth – including myself – were given the wonderful opportunity to accompany the Semiahmoo Rotary Club to Hermosillo, Mexico for the delivery of 115 wheelchairs to children with disabilities. The four-day venture truly opened my eyes to the harsh reality that exists outside the borders of  Surrey. I realized the more fortunate we are, the more we should reach out to those who have not been granted such comfortable circumstances.

The Semiahmoo Rotary Club began fundraising efforts to purchase these wheelchairs about two years ago, and the project also involved the Canadian Wheelchair Foundation  and the Panorama YMCA Interact Club, of which I am a proud member.

On Mexico’s part, the Centre for the Rehabilitation of Children (CRIT), the Sonora State Government Health Group, the Foundation for Children with Disabilities (DIF), and the Hermosillo Rotary Club have all worked to make sure that each of the wheelchairs would be given to those who needed them most –  including five specially equipped chairs for children with severe spinal conditions.

The total dollar figure for the entire project stood at over $24,000, with each standard chair costing about $150 and the special ones $500 each.

As for the distribution of the chairs, it began with the first individuals we met at DIF, to the last woman whom we waved goodbye to as she sat teary-eyed at her doorstep with the comfort of her new gift underneath her. It’s almost unbelievable to think how many hands we shook (with a warm kiss on the cheek), the many heartfelt blessings we received, and the number of faces we saw lit up with the effect of gratitude, all in just four days.

I was very touched by one woman whose emotions suddenly came pouring down her cheeks as I stood up from my crouched position beside her to give her the most sincere hug I could. A good minute or so passed before I let go with a soaked shoulder, and at this point I was trying to fight my own tears.

When it came time to lift off the grounds of Hermosillo to return home, I gazed down at the city as it grew smaller with more altitude. Aside from nostalgia flooding through me, I can’t begin to explain the feeling of fulfillment from having left a warm sentiment of Canada in the Mexicans’ hearts.

At the same time, the idea of even more people for whom gaining mobility is a distant dream made me want nothing more than to go back and help bring a smile to their faces too.

The next set of fundraising plans are already drawn, with the goal of delivering another round of wheelchairs in 2014.

So long Hermosillo. Hopefully my wishes will grant our reunion in the near future.

To get involved with this initiative, please visit www.cdnwheelchair.ca or www.clubrunner.ca

 

Naomi Gantug, Grade 10

Elgin Park Secondary School

Surrey North Delta Leader

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