Rotary’s wheelchair gifts changes lives

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Rotary clubs of Pakenham and Berwick gave two East Timorese with physical disabilities the gift of independence this Christmas.

Teenager Cecilia Casmira was overjoyed to receive her very own pink wheelchair.

Prior to last month, Cecilia’s mother had been carrying the 12-year-old on her hip in a scarf sling throughout her whole life, and she had been cushioned between two people on a motorcycle for longer distance travel.

A man aged in his early 30s, Senhor Julio, was also excited by his surprise wheelchair delivery.

Before being fitted to the chair, he could only lie on the floor or be placed on a chair.

Rotary Club of Pakenham past president Roger Thornton said these wheelchairs would be “life changing“ for them.

“It also frees up their parents,” he said.

“The sad thing is, these are just two people that we know of.

“There are many more people out there in need but we’ve got to start somewhere.“
Balibo-based Australian volunteer Michele Rankin said Cecilia was “overwhelmed with emotion”.

“She radiated so much joy that can’t be captured in a photo. People gathered around and were so happy for her. Rotary has given so much joy not only to Cecilia but her family and friends,” she said.

“Senhor Julio was overcome with the generosity as he didn’t know he would be receiving the chair. He is now able to wheel himself around after being stuck in a chair or lying on the floor, unable to go out and about.

“Everyone is over the moon. I will never forget this day – a definite highlight in my life.”

Pakenham, Berwick, Port Melbourne and Keilor Rotary Clubs have contributed towards several long-term projects in Balibo.

In addition to the wheelchairs, Rotary also sent an array of medical supplies to Balibo Hospital.

Originally published at Pakenham Gazette.

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About Alana Mitchelson

Alana Mitchelson is a journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Follow her on Twitter at @AlanaMitchelson.

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