For the past six years volunteers from Canada and the United States have joined Guatemalans with disabilities and their families for a three-week camp in the town of Chimaltenango, Guatemala.
The camp is an outreach of Hope Haven International Ministries, based in Rock Valley, Iowa. Wheelchair repair and distribution are built into the camp’s activities for children and adults.
Hope Haven Canada now has official charity status, allowing Canadians to donate chairs and cash and receive a tax receipt.
Ralph Terpstra of Surrey, British Columbia, has been to camp several times and collects wheelchairs in Canada. Since 1994, 60,000 chairs have been distributed to 99 countries.
This was the fourth camp for Marie Van Barneveld, a member of Duncan (B.C.) Christian Reformed Church. “At camp we see people committed to keeping their families together against terrible odds.”
The wheelchairs have given many people hope and confidence. The camp repairs, refits, and replaces wheelchairs through Bethel Ministries, a Hope Haven-supported wheelchair repair shop. Repairs are made by people who use wheelchairs themselves.
Van Barneveld and other volunteers also pass out gift packs that include handmade quilts, knitted hats, hygiene items, and school and medical supplies.
“These gifts have been donated by countless people, yet I’m the one who receives the thanks and the hugs,” she said. “I pass it on when I get back home.”
—Jenny de Groot