Dr. Arif M. Muslim, a physician in Premier’s gastroenterology division, spent his vacation in the Philippines. There were transportation snafus on the way to distant islands, stifling heat and humidity, but none of it phased him because he was on a mission.
“I’ve been involved for quite some time with the Rotary Clubs of America and its work with The Wheelchair Foundation. My first trip was to Chile,” says Muslim. Rotarians in the recipient country identify people who are in need of a wheelchair they could not otherwise afford. “We travel as a group, with members paying their own way and donating wheelchairs in addition to those supplied by the foundation.”
Once they’re at the sites—four Philippine islands were visited on this trip—the volunteers assemble the chairs, fill the tires, clean them and hand them directly to the recipients. They’re equipped with different sizes of wheelchair so they can help adults and children alike.
“It’s a good feeling, says Muslim. “The first chair I gave out on this mission was to a kid with cerebral palsy who could not walk at all. He’s getting bigger now and it has become difficult for the parents to carry him around. Some of the folks came in with homemade wheelchairs made from wooden wheels and planks; it was unbelievable. We gave them a nice, shiny American wheelchair.”
“Providing mobility to people who would otherwise be denied provides instant satisfaction. You hand the wheelchair to someone and see the gratitude; often they are in tears,” says Muslim. “I’ll keep doing this as long as I’m physically and mentally able.”
Dr. Muslim’s group is planning to make their next mission to Nepal. “There are a lot of people who, in the aftermath of the earthquake, are disabled and could use wheelchairs,” he says.