Humanitarian Effort to El Salvador

December 2 nd, 2008

Marc Durocher made the long trek to El Salvador in November and came back to Timmins a changed man. Along with 37 other Rotarians from across Ontario, Durocher
paid his own way to help deliver 1,400 wheelchairs to El Salvadorian citizens who could otherwise not afford to purchase them.

“One gentleman was in his 70’s and when we took a photo for him for Wheelchair Foundation Canada, he started crying,” Durocher explained. “You could tell
the gratitude he was trying to convey. Even though I couldn’t understand most of it (his speech in Spanish), to know you helped someone in a life-changing
way fills your heart with joy.”

The Rotary Club of Timmins- Porcupine, along with many other clubs, in the district raised roughly $50,000 toward the $150,000 project. Rotary International
partnered with Wheelchair Foundation Canada and had the cost of wheelchairs subsidized so they could be bought at $150 per wheelchair. The wheelchairs
were bought in bulk and were manufactured and delivered to El Salvador where local Rotary Club members housed them.

“In a lot of these developing nations, getting access to something like a wheelchair is very difficult or sometimes they have the money but no access to
a wheelchair,” Durocher said.

During his trip, Durocher chronicled his adventures in an online blog.

“I don’t care how many books or websites you read, there is no better way to learn about another culture than to live among them,” he wrote in his Nov.
11 blog. “The people on this trip will share a special bond for the rest of our lives.”

Durocher made a special presentation during Rotary’s meeting at Siva’s Family Restaurant on Monday. He spoke candidly about his trip and gave a slide-show
presentation with photos.

“To be able to see how other people live made me realize how fortunate we are. We complain about not having things like car starters when they are driving
themselves around on their hands and knees because they don’t have a wheelchair,” he said.

Despite being poor, Durocher explained that El Salvadorian people were always in high spirits and constantly smiling.

“They really make the best of what they have and are happy for what they have,” he said. “I found it a much-less materialistic society and I think their
core values are more focused on that.”

In addition to delivering wheelchairs, Durocher also got to visit an orphanage, schools and an AIDS hospice.

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The Rotary Club of Timmins- Porcupine has been involved in the wheelchair project in various countries for fives years in a row. Next year the local club
and fellow district clubs will be sending 800 wheelchairs to Ecuador and are currently accepting donations.
Article ID# 1327524

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