PET MN-Twin Cities continues to grow and progress. On 11 June 2013, we delivered 20 carts to Global Health Ministries in Fridley, MN, to be included in a half size (20 foot) container going to Iringa, Tanzania. The container departs on 13 June, and makes its way to a port in New Jersey, on to Amsterdam, and after a couple of more moves, goes down the east coast of Africa to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. From there it is back onto a truck to Iringa. The journey should take about 4 ½ months.
The shipment has been paid for by two Lutheran (ELCA) churches in the Twin Cities area, Easter Lutheran in Eagan, and Trinity Lutheran in Stillwater. Pastor Paul Harris from Easter Lutheran spends part of each year in Iringa teaching theology at a university there. Youth from Easter provided the muscle needed for quick transfer of the carts onto and then off of a trailer onto the dock at GHM.
GHM is a Lutheran affiliated nonprofit that works very much like another PET partner, MEDSHARE, based in Atlanta. Among other things, they obtain the unused contents of various medical procedure kits that have been opened and repackage them for further use. They would be otherwise discarded. They like to say they stand between the hospitals and the dumpster.
We are also growing our collaboration with Midwest Special Services, a nonprofit here in the Twin Cities are that provides a broad range of services to the disabled. These include vocational services, and we are exploring having them assemble carts on behalf of PET MN – Twin Cities. We are working with other volunteers to provide the needed parts, and have constructed a set of assembly fixtures for them to use.
We are working with some of our friends in local Rotary Clubs on a possible Rotary Grant as well. The Rotary Club of Maple Grove, MN, is one of our most regular providers of volunteers, and they, along with other clubs in area four of the district, are putting the connections and paperwork together
Victor from Guatemala City graciously accepted the blessing of receiving the PET mobility cart that was donated to him.
Victor was disabled over 5 years ago when he was riding in a city bus in Guatemala City. The bus had an accident in which his right leg was unable to be saved and had to be amputated. His activity has been limited ever since, as he has been using crutches to get around. He has a family and plans to go to the market now to get the groceries they need, now that he has better mobility. He will still need to take someone with him, as he doesn’t know how to read or write.
He commented that the cart is a blessing and is greatly appreciated. Victor was anxious to start getting to know how to operate the cart. He was given a quick overview and the tools needed to keep his cart in good working order. This gift of mobility will change his life and he couldn’t wait to show his family.
The Guatemala City Ministry Team from Wooddale Church in Eden Prairie, MN invited Victor to eat dinner with them before they took him home at where they were staying. When we arrived to Victor’s home, his entire family came out to greet us. They were happy to see the Victor was getting around so well and we asked to get a picture with the team and his family. We thank God that we were able to provide Victor with this gift and know he will get many good years of service with it.
Thanks PET mobility for this generous donation!
On July 11, we hosted a youth group from St. Luke’s UMC in Omaha. They were on a mission trip to Minnesota and had contacted a member of our Board, Pastor Chip Nielson, about opportunities. We agreed to host them and used the opportunity to make the final improvements to the shop to make production of carts a reality. The group of 13 arrived at 8 AM, and after some safety briefings and orientation, were broken up into teams of 2-3 to assemble the wooden portions of 10 carts.
It was helpful to all of us to have them here. First, they were not aware of PET carts, and so we had to set the context. Second, they were not real familiar with power tools, so we had some orientation to do there as well. Finally, we had to do some adjusting on the fly to make the current jigs compatible with the batch of wood just cut into parts.
It was a great morning for us! I am reacting a bit selfishly, as I think we got as much or more out of it than the youth. Their enthusiasm and grasp of the importance of the project became evident. Their leader, Pat Bauerle, was moved to tears by the stories of how the carts can change lives forever.
The kids assembled seats, boxes, and back rests, and began priming the parts in preparation for painting. They then attached the frames to our original seven carts that were awaiting them. We quickly used up the parts cut for the 10 carts, and wrapped things up. The photos show them at work and play. We managed some friendly “races” using the four carts we have on hand at the moment.
Pastor Chip closed the day with some thoughtful words and a blessing of the carts worked that morning.
On 3/2/2012, we signed the lease for our initial home / shop. It is located at 2112 Broadway Ave. NE, Minneapolis. We are on the lowest level of what used to be the Marigold Dairy building. It has been rehabilitated and repurposed to what is now mixed use. There are loading docks, a large elevator, full handicap accessibility, and growth to over 4500 square feet (we are starting with a little less than 1500). After some utility work and painting, we will begin the move in and setup process. We hope to take advantage of the generosity of Bob Gabrielese in DeMotte, IN, and duplicate some of the tables and work stations he has created to maximize efficiency and safety in his shop. We will move the assembly activities on the initial 10 carts to the new location as soon as possible. Thanks to all for your support to date.
This is a very important milestone for us. We are shouting Hallelujah a little early in the Lenten season, but it is heartfelt for us. We’ll have an open house once moved in, probably in April.
The first three carts have been completed at Arlington Hills UMC in St. Paul, MN. Rev. Chip Nielson and the congregation enthusiastically supported the disruption to their spaces with assembly processes, painting and drying, and finally the ongoing storage of completed PETs. We invited Steve Baima, Volunteer Executive Director of PET International, to visit and inspect them. He did so on Jan 19, 2012, and approved the efforts. He then attended our Board of Directors meeting that evening and provided his perspectives on the future directions of PET International.
He also provided helpful information on what we could do to properly engage the distribution process for our future carts. It is very gratifying to see the PETs come together. As soon as we are able to move into our more permanent home, the build process will begin in earnest.
Some fellow Minnesotans visited Guatemala as part of a Common Hope mission trip. While there they stopped by to visit the Hope Haven facility in Antigua, where PET carts are assembled and distributed, along with rehabilitated wheel chairs. This is the focus of the Central America Mobility Partnership (CAMP) where PET International is partnered with Hope Haven. A new facility is under development, but the current situation proved to be a highlight of the trip for Jim and Marsha Benshoof. The photo attached is of Marsha aboard a PET assembled there, with Ilse, the director of the facility in the background. The Benshoof’s are inspired by what they saw.
This report came from one of our newer distribution partners. Dr. Harry and Echo (PA) VanderWal are an American medical team/NGO working with 15 highly-trained Swazis in Swaziland. Over the last two years they have incorporated PETs with their services for the disabled. Von Driggs, PET International’s Director of Operations was there this winter to help in their clinics and check into how PETs were doing as part of their mission.
Amid all this stood a 10-year-old boy with rickets. We met him last year. The lack of vitamin D in his diet caused severe deformity in his legs, as they bow out. Operating on him, Echo noted, might cause even greater pain and trauma as he grows into manhood.
“I doubt anything can be done to correct this now,” said Harry. “It’s too late for this boy.”
The Luke Commission team did build him one of the PET wheelchairs. “He really should not walk or stand as much as he does,” Echo said. “It’s sad.”
Our largest distribution partner is Hope Haven International. PET International works with HHI in Guatemala as part of the Central American Mobility Partnership (CAMP). Operating out of a building in Antigua, Guatemala, CAMP distributes both rehabilitated wheelchairs and PET carts throughout Central America. Many PET cart recipients are very creative with their vehicles, adding all sorts of accessories to make their carts work even more effectively for them. Here is a photo of a man in Guatemala with a cooler on the back of his cart, where he can put ice and transport items in the cooler. Sometimes these things will be sold, sometimes simply transported.