From The miracle of Mobility Worldwide:

The year 2019 marks the 25th anniversary of the Mobility Worldwide (formerly PET International).
Since the 1992 beginning, the ministry has constructed more than 70,000 hand-crank carts for people in 104 countries.
The ministry was started by the Rev. Mel West, a World War II Marine Corps veteran and a former dairy farmer and vocational agriculture teacher in Missouri prior to his call to the ministry.
During Mel’s ministerial career, he founded and led the Office of Creative Ministry for the Missouri Annual Conference. In that post for 20 years, he was the catalyst for scores of voluntary service projects that introduced hundreds of youth and adults to the joys of voluntary mission service.

A 4-year-old boy in San Bernadino, Guatemala, receives a mobility cart.

A 4-year-old boy in
San Bernadino, Guatemala,
receives a mobility cart.

Mel West with MW cart

Mel West with MW cart

An appeal from Zambia
Following his 1992 retirement from the ordained ministry, Mel received an appeal from Larry Hills, a UM missionary in Zambia.
The appeal derived from an evening experience. Larry was driving home and his lights played on an object crawling out of roadside bush. He thought it was an animal but discovered it was a woman, with an infant strapped to her back. Long ago, a land mine had blown both of her legs off. Larry gave her water and drove her to her destination.
Larry appealed to Mel to use his network of contacts to provide wheelchairs for those maimed by landmines.
Mel knew that a standard wheelchair would not work on the rough terrain of Zambia. He went to work with Earl Miner, an engineer. Working in the garage at Mel’s Columbia home, the two of them built a hand-crank, three-wheeled, cart. They called their creation a PET (Personal Energy Transportation) unit.
A field test in Zambia received overwhelmingly positive reviews. With some modifications, they had a cart, which could haul 300 pounds, move at the speed of a fast walk, and last from eight-to-ten years.
First shop
In 1994, the first PET shop was established in Columbia with a corps of dedicated volunteer workers. Most of the volunteers were seniors and many were members of UM Men organizations from neighboring churches.
From these simple beginnings, the PET project became a rapidly growing movement. Today there are 21 shops in the U.S. one in Zambia and one in Sierra Leone. These shops produce 7,000 units each year. The shops produce a cart for adults, a cart for children, and a pull cart without a crank.
In 2015, this movement was rebranded as Mobility Worldwide, and it became an official affiliate organization of the General Commission on UM Men. Participants at the UM Men gatherings have had a chance to “kick the tires” by constructing and test-driving the carts.
Working with some 50 distribution partners, the carts are delivered by maritime freight in containers of 80-140 carts.
Personal experience
I have been involved with Mobility Worldwide since 2004 when I volunteered to be the contact for this mission cause in Alaska. We thought that we could raise a little money (perhaps enough to build a few dozen carts) to assist this effort.
Over the past 14 years, UM organizations have combined their efforts with Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs, and local businesses to provide funding for more than 500 carts. Alaskan college students, UM laymen, educators, health professionals, pastors, veterans and service club members have had the joy of personally meeting and delivering carts to adults and children in South Sudan, Zambia, Cameroon, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Kenya, Vietnam and Sri Lanka.
I have made five trips to Guatemala since 2010––two trips to deliver carts and three trips with humanitarian service teams where cart delivery was part of our work.
Two memorable presentations
I recall a woman who got out of a mangled wheelchair and took to her new cart like a duck to water. The cart had a cooler in the back, which enabled her to support her children by selling tortillas in the plaza.
I also had the joy of presenting a cart to a beautiful young mother of two children who had been bedridden for the previous 18 months. She was disabled following a robbery where her husband was fatally shot and she was knifed and left for dead.
We helped her on the cart and she grabbed my hand in a vise-like grip, thanked, and blessed me for this gift. With a language assist from a college student on the team, I explained the gift was not from me; I was just a volunteer. The cart was from friends in the U.S. who wanted to share God’s love and help people like her in this special way.
She was crying, I was crying and the college student was crying.
Your turn
I hope your UM Men organization will participate in the 2019 silver anniversary of Mobility Worldwide by providing $300 to underwrite a cart and I hope you can become members of a distribution team.
For more information, visit
Mel West, 95, has a mantra. It reads, “When you do a good thing and do it well, let people know about it; good people want to help.”
To paraphrase Mel’s statement: “Mobility Worldwide builds a good cart that brings new life and possibilities for the disabled poor; good people want to help.
UM Men are good people. I am confident you will help.

The Rev. Walt Hays

The Rev.
Walt Hays

The Rev. Walt Hays is a retired UM pastor living in Alaska. He has experience in ecumenical ministries and was a development officer in the non-profit sector. He is now a volunteer senior adviser with Mobility Worldwide.