PP Mike Tanner introduced our speakers for the day, Interactors and Ambassadors to the Crutches for Africa program, Jaiden Gatson and Matthew Syms who were both on the Interact District Council. Jaiden was President of her Interact Club at Bourgade Catholic High School and will be attending NAU; Matthew attended the Herberger Young Scholars Academy and will be attending Choate Boarding School in CT in the fall. 
Jaiden thanked the club of our financial support that helped make travel possible for the Ambassadors to deliver crutches and other mobility devices to Kenya this summer. Ten or so Rotarians, Interactors and non-Rotarians made the trip—the third year District 5495 has been involved in the project. One of the reps this year was from the American Furniture Warehouse where the mobility devices are stored until ready to be shipped to Africa.
The group spent two weeks in Kenya, the first week working through a secondary school in Naivasha, just north of Nairobi. The Ambassadors spent some of this week delivering clothes, sewing kits, toys and soccer balls. Although the Ambassadors were members of Interact serving ages 12-18, it is actually Rotaract serving ages 18-30 that is most robust in Kenya while Interact is the weakest. The second week was at the Maasai Mara Game Reserve staying at the Prescott College Campus bordering the reserve.
In this third year of distribution some things have changed. Rather than driving long distances and giving out mobility devices one at a time, distribution sites have been set up and the African people in need of such devices come to those distribution centers. We (Phoenix West Rotarians) learned that the team gave lots of donated medical supplies and mobility devices to clinics and hospitals so they can be distributed to those in need of such devices. The saddest part of the entire trip was not having enough wheelchairs to give to all the people who needed them. It cost about $25,000 for shipping of equipment and travel for the six ambassadors.
One interesting thing we learned was that Jaiden, Matt, and their team had to introduce themselves to the Maasai Elder and while the rites have now changed, it is likely that this 70+ year-old elder had to kill a lion with his bare hands in order to become the elder. He traveled with the team some days. We also learned that in Africa it is seen as a shame to have a child with a disability, thus they are often hidden from public view. One young deaf child had been abandoned by his parents but received help at one of the schools the team visited. 
Jaiden and Matt reminded us that people need to walk for miles to get water, but a soon to be completed water well will make it possible to get fresh, clean water near by. The group got to meet the #1 dance group in Kenya and they worked to paint the local YMCA there with a new logo and the name of Rotary D-5495. 
Jaiden was most thrilled to be able to give a wheel chair to a man who had been paralyzed for 17 years but was sad that it had taken that long to provide him with what he needed for mobility. Matthew was happy to help a nine-year-old-girl with CP walk for the first time because of a donated walker—she was so excited, she made a circle around the room. Another young girl who had received a walker a year ago came back and thanked the group because using it she had been able to walk to school. Jaiden said that she learned from the experience that mobility is necessary for life. Matthew indicated that he learned that you can’t change the world in two weeks, but you can change yourself and change how you operate and influence others.
We were reminded by listening, seeing the visuals and the video that one simple device whether it be a cane, crutches or a wheel chair really can change lives for the better. In response to the question “What else can we do”, Jaiden indicated Don’t give up! We need to keep the project going, changing one life at a time. Matthew added that while canes, walkers and crutches are important, we must focus on getting more wheelchairs that we can deliver next time. He suggested that we might have some mobility device in the garage that we used for 6-8 weeks, which could be used to change lives like the ones they had seen and changed in Africa this summer.