Trip Start Jan 14, 2013
Trip End Apr 15, 2013

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Monday, January 28, 2013

Rotary Daybreak Campbell River finish the Colombia wheelchair distributions with visits to two sites. The first to another Barrios along the Saravena river that technically separates Colombia and Venezuela. This extremely desperate site was the last hope for elders and a few children that were either abandoned by their families, had no family or were simply rescued off the streets and dropped off by hospital staff or police. Organ "harvesting" is a real concern for those lost souls who don't make it this far. Most of these people will die here under the courageous care of one woman and several assistants. Given it's location along the border the site is prime for thieves who would steal anything that appeared to have value, which appeared to be non exisitent. Looking out the back of this site you could see a steady flow of motorbikes shuttling contraband of every kind across the river from Venezuela into Colombia. Meals here consist of donations from charitable groups and whatever else they can find. Today's menu included offal from recently slaughtered animals simmering on the wood fired stove along with a large pot of rice. 

We met some incredible people here, elder mother-daughter sharing an orange from Marg, two young brothers oblivious to the peril around them, an elder gentleman clinging to his radio listening to the sounds of the outside world. Rotary Cucuta is working with the municipal government to attempt to move the "facility" to a more secure location, away from the flooding river and border traffic.

Our last stop was an inspirational project lead by a woman who had lost her grandchild to Down Syndrome. Over a period of years she has spearheaded the construction and operation of a facility that accommodates the most severe handicapped and is funded by a number of charitable organizations and endowments. Complete with rotating dieticians, physiotherapists, other health professionals and therapy pool the children and adults are in the best place they could possibly be. University students also do rotating practicums here and from all accounts have no shortage of real world experiences to apply their new training. The staff were proud to inform us that their handicap "team" had placed third overall in competitions in Colombia.

Marg and I are truly grateful to Rotary Campbell River for the opportunity they have provided us to participate in their wheelchair distribution project headed by Hansi Zhilmann. It has provided us with an opportunity to see parts of the world we would undoubtedly never see and meet some incredible people doing incredible things for their country and for the less fortunate. We have also had the pleasure of meeting and travelling with some new friends with Rotary, who are also doing great things for those without mobility. Something we will never take for granted again. We wish them all the best as they continue their fundraising and future trips to South Africa in 2014. Bolivia in 2015 and Vietnam in 2016.
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