While I was stopped at a red light not too long ago, a bus pulled up to the nearby bus stop. Rather than passengers quickly pushing out the door, the bus lowered to curb level and sent out a ramp so that a passenger could exit in his wheelchair. The entire process took seconds, certainly less time than I waited at the red light.
Unfortunately, not everyone has access to such dependable and safe forms of transportation. In Lima, Peru, where Columbans run the Center of Special Education Manuel Duato School and the Association for People with Special Abilities (ASPHAD), public transportation does not cater to people in wheelchairs.
In those two ministries, we Columbans are working now with over 30 people using wheelchairs.
According to the Director at the Manuel Duato School, there are now 27 students using wheelchairs. The Association for People with Special Abilities (ASPHAD) has seven people using wheelchairs. The parents of these special people struggle each day to get them to classes or workshops. Drivers are reluctant to have the extra work of lifting a disabled person and the wheelchair into and out of a taxi, let alone a crowded bus.
Since the Manuel Duato School finishes its daily classes by 1:00 p.m., one bus would be able to care for all of their wheelchair students and have time to attend to the older people going to the ASPHAD Center which is open from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. daily.
Fortunately for us, the Lima agency for international buses had one nine meter chassis (including the engine) left from last year’s stock, which we purchased and had taken to a local coach builder only one kilometer away from the Manuel Duato School. The engineer is drawing up details about how to provide the best seating for people in wheelchairs and storage of wheelchairs as required. A lift for wheelchair and occupant is definitely part of the design.
Now the remaining problem is how to pay the coach builder for the work. We need approximately $46,000.00 to pay for all of the modifications. Once again we appeal to you on behalf of these people who depend on their wheelchairs, so that they may be able to travel with ease and safety to both of our centers.
Lent is a season of great hope, hope for new beginnings. With the grace of God new possibilities can be embraced. Please help all these special people and their families to continue befriending and helping one another in their efforts to get safely to Manuel Duato School or ASPHAD Center. Your donation, in any amount, will make a real and tangible difference in the lives of some very special people.
Our Lord will reward abundantly your sacrifice and your generosity. In return for your kindness and as a takon of our gratitude for your prayers and support, you and your intentions will be remembered during our daily Masses this Lenten season.