The Church continues to be an important influence within the countries of Central America an area where millions have endured economic hardship and natural disasters in recent years.
Now hundreds in El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua will enjoy the gift of mobility. The Church, in partnership with California philanthropist and Wheelchair Foundation founder Kenneth Behring, recently donated 500 wheelchairs to each of the three Central American countries via their respective First Lady charitable organizations.
During ceremonies in each country, local Church leaders and Humanitarian Service representatives met with the First Ladies and presented wheelchairs to the first group of recipients. The ceremonies announcing the donations were attended by Honduran president Carlos Roberto Flores and his wife, Mary Flake de Flores; Nicaraguan president Arnoldo Aleman and his wife, Maria Fernanda Flores de Aleman; and El Salvador's first lady, Lourdes Maria Rodriguez.
"There were tender moments as relatives came carrying children and adults to receive wheelchairs," said Humanitarian Service Director Garry R. Flake. "In El Salvador, a teenage young man was carried up and placed in a wheelchair. Right behind him, his mother was brought in a wheelchair they both had shared. Both with multiple sclerosis, they wept together knowing they can now move around together."
Similar scenes of joy and hope were witnessed in the other countries.
"It was very moving to see individuals who had previously been confined to their homes now able to move about by their own power," said Harold C. Brown, managing director of Welfare Services.
"We are very appreciative of the charitable assistance from the [Church]," said President Flores at a ceremony in the Presidential Palace. "They have always been there for Honduras. Now, they are partnering with Mr. Behring to bless the lives of many people that have not had the privilege of being mobile. This donation will help people to be more self-reliant."
The first lady of El Salvador also recognized the Church's efforts during the earthquakes earlier this year while her Nicaraguan counterpart thanked the Church for its assistance during a recent drought in her country.
Area Authority Seventies Elders Jose E. Boza and Armando Sierra also represented the Church in the ceremonies.