Rotary Club of Anchorage East

The Good News and the Bad News from Guatemala

Posted by Sandra Wicks
Let's get the bad news out of the way first so we can focus on the good.  Our district grant for PETs (the three-wheeled mobility carts) for Guatemala provided the funds for 43 PETs.  They were produced by the PET workshop in Kansas and shipped to our distribution partner. Our distribution partner packs PETs in containers with a lot of other materials for its work in Guatemala.  Unfortunately, the container that got through customs in time had only 7 of our PETs in it.  The other container is stuck in Guatemalan customs.  So, the rest of our PETs were not here for distribution during my trip to Guatemala as the representative (at my own expense) of our club.  The rest of the PETs are supposed to be available for distribution in June.
 
Now, the good news.  When you have 7 PETs to distribute in two days at the remote distribution site, you have lots of time to talk to the families of recipients and, where possible, the recipients themselves.  When I am back in Alaska, I hope to give a presentation to our club so our members can get to know the PET recipients a little and see how a distribution unfolds.  We have wonderful partners to work with and coming to Guatemala on a distribution trip is an eye-opening and possibly live-changing experience for anyone.
 
Here are a couple of the PET recipients and a sketch of their stories.
This is Miguel (age 52).  He worked in agriculture until 9 years ago when a truck taking him to the fields collided with another truck and he was thrown out, resulting in the amputation of his left leg.  Since then he hasn't been able to work. He left very happy with his new PET to drive it 1.5 hours home.
Perhaps the most dramatic (at least to me) of the PET distributions was to Joel, a dwarf-sized person with multiple unknown handicaps.  Below is Joel (in the red shirt) with the family members who came with him.  Joel is 25.
From lack of experience, I at first thought there might not be much going on in this man's mind.  Then, because a huge downpour started as he was receiving his PET and the family couldn't leave, I watched him working at learning to drive his PET in a circle in the small undercover space where the PET was fitted to him.  I was amazed to observe how he was processing the obstacles and how to overcome them.  It was a good lesson to me not to underestimate anyone's abilities.  The family left in the pickup truck they had paid to bring them 1.5 hours from their community to the distribution site. I have no idea how they paid for the trip, since none of the family members have work.
 
(to be continued)