I grew up in a “short-straw/long straw” culture. My grade-school teacher in our one-room school used broom straws to teach us some facts of life. In a playground game such as “Andy-over” someone had to be picked to choose first in picking teams. Ms. Mary Christner got a straw from a broom, broke two pieces off, hid them in her hand, and the one that got the long straw got to pick first for their team. She reminded us that life was like that. Sometimes we got the long straw, and sometimes the short straw. But we all had to learn to play fairly together.

My Grandpa Bawbell approached it a bit differently, using the scripture that “the poor will always be with us.” “Melvin,” he said, “there will always be people who grow up in poor situations, or make poor decisions. We must help to look after them.”
Mobility Worldwide (PET) has had that philosophy from the very beginning. Our goal is to provide the gift of mobility to those most in need, and in the most isolated places. In other words, to those who drew the short straw.

*** Fidel Simiyu, in Kenya, drew a short straw. He was born physically challenged and his mother abandoned him. He lived with his father and grandmother, and had to be carried to school. He got a PET and his life was changed.

*** Bezham Epremidze lives in The Republic of Georgia. He lost both legs and the shock of becoming a “stump of a man” caused him to have a stroke. He received a cart and was soon riding around his community, with a new spirit and purpose.

*** A cart recipient in Angola drew a very short straw and got leprosy. He wrote, “my leg was amputated. Since then I could not walk and had to crawl upon the ground. I tried a wheelchair but could not move it because I had no fingers. Then I got a big surprise. I got a PET. I was so happy I cried. I can move it with the palms of my hands. Thank you. I never imagined anyone would think of me.” (Read full Oct. 2009 report from Angola that came with this picture.)

Right now one of our own shop volunteers, who helps with parts inventory, is in Cote D’Ivoire building and distributing carts. Here is an excerpt of his email from the field and link to short video of his work with our distribution partner 1040i:

“Gary and Terry,
Sorry for the radio silence, I’ve been very busy and internet connectivity has been spotty.

Anyway, I have been here for 8 days now after arriving one day late due to thunderstorms in Atlanta. Doing very well, the people have been great and very helpful.

With much help from the Ivorians, 1040i staff, and some of the team members here from the states built ~170 carts from boxes. It’s quite a herd.

Did 5 distributions so far. Three on last Tue at villages south of here. 1 here at Tanda and two today to the north.

Completed last formal distribution today at Bonduko, biggest town in district, we passed the one traffic light on the way back. Distributed 2 carts on the way and another 18 carts at a church in the town. Very rewarding. We have given out a total of about 65 carts so far. Mike and Pastor Paul have plans as to how they will distribute the remainder of the carts built – after I leave.

I am very encouraged by the cooperation and ability of the team here. They now have a very good understanding of how to distribute carts. Will send more info later….. Jay Eggert”

Thank you to all our supporters that have made this report from Ivory Coast possible.
I think Ms. Mary Christner and Grandpa Bawbell would be pleased with what those of us who drew the long straw are doing.

“The measure of love is compassion. The measure of compassion is kindness.” – Anon.

Mel West, Director Emeritus
DBA Mobility Worldwide MO – Columbia