Today we have a guest article from my friend, Rease Wold. A while back Rease told me about a program that he was involved in where they give prosthetic hands to people in the Philippines who need them. I found it interesting, and touching, and wanted to give Rease a chance to share his story about this organization and the work he does. Thanks for submitting this article, Rease, and good luck with the work you are doing! It is very important work indeed. – MindanaoBob
One of the ladies we worked a lot with during Typhoon Yolanda relief operations this last year recently called me while she was on vacation in Nevada with a question. Her question? “Would you and your Asawa like to help me give out prosthetic hands in the Philippines?”. We’d had such a great time working with Grace and her husband that we said “Yes, of course we will”.
This begged the question of what exactly this whole hand giving thing is about. It turns out that the Ellen Meadows organization was formed by Ellen’s parents after she was killed by a drunk driver. The reason it was formed was to honor her memory by getting free prosthetic hands to those in need. The parent organization, and the name of the prosthetic hands is LN-4. This is really a clever play on words as LN-4 spelled backward’ish is “For Ellen”. To date the organization has given away over 16,000 hands in more than 80 countries.
Our initial goal is to reach all in need on the Island of Panay and it’s smaller neighboring islands. Over time, we intend to branch out to the entire Philippines. By this coming Sunday, November 5th, we will have given out our initial 35 hands and we are awaiting a shipment of at least 100 more. These hands are completely free to the recipients. We either pay them to come to us or we spend our own money to get to them. The plastics, metals, forges, forms, fabrication, shipment and all other costs associated with the LN-4 hand are donated by numerous people and organizations throughout the world. It’s really very heartwarming and incredible.
To date we’ve managed to get an energetic and fun team of volunteers together on Panay Island. A great deal of this is due to the community of volunteers we gathered on the Discover Panay Island website on Facebook, without them, it is likely this would not have been possible. My Asawa developed a webpage, two photographer friends get us great pictures and make graphics and banners. Volunteers around the island offer up boats to reach remote areas. Local news media are doing radio spots and newspaper articles. I think we’ll be televised in Roxas, Capiz this coming Saturday as well.
What’s the point in all of this? Well, my Asawa and I (and our friends) enjoy this type of work. It also has given us an opportunity to see parts of Philippine life and culture that many don’t get a chance to see or experience. We’ve met so many cool people from all walks of life and created many lasting relationships. It also gives us the chance to get to areas in country that we likely would never have gotten to see. It also happens to be extremely rewarding work helping people who lost their hand/hands:
- While dynamite fishing (illegally, but we think maybe a lesson was learned)
- While constructing fireworks in substandard factories
- When her ex-husband got drunk and jealous and tried to murder her with a machete
- In a vehicle accident
- And the list goes on….
A few short and busy weeks ago, I could just barely spell prosthetic. Now I find myself referred to as “the expert” and am the one to train others. Funny how life works at times. Volunteer work isn’t for everyone, but there are opportunities out there if you want to get out and become part of the community that many of us expats live in the Philippines. For my Asawa and I, it’s also an opportunity to get out of the house and do something meaningful and rewarding.