And so it begins…

A warehouse worker uses the forklift to move a pallet of wheelchairs.

This is what we arrived to: Pallet after pallet piled high with wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and more.

Arriving and assembling ourselves in Peru is always a bit of an adventure and good for a story or two.

This year is no exception.

Sammie and I arrived near midnight on Saturday. It was a close call for me as I nearly missed my connection to the Lima flight because of mechanical difficulties. A helpful gate agent in Salt Lake City somehow got me a seat on a flight to Atlanta that was supposed to be full. I got there in plenty of time – although one of the Eleanore’s Project bags stayed behind in Atlanta and just appeared today. Meanwhile, Julian was not so fortunate when one of her planes had mechanical difficulties. Delta housed her overnight in a hotel near Dulles airport, and she arrived a day after Sammie and me.

Sunday was a chance to rest, stock up on necessities like laundry soap, rest again, struggle with the challenges of getting a cell phone to work with a new SIM card (those messages in Spanish are way too fast for me to understand), visit with friends and finally collapse for the night.

Sammie and I had the luxury of some rest yesterday, before beginning work today, while Julian struggled along on about 4 hours of sleep. Our morning began with a coordination meeting at Yancana Huasy. After that we traveled to the Caritas del Peru warehouse where our wheelchair shipment has been stored since mid-February. Ana Cecelia (social worker and translator), Chris (occupational therapist) Marlon and Edwardo (physical therapists) and Rufino (driver and all around good guy) completed our group. It was great to see the equipment that Julian and I selected in December, here in Lima and (mostly) safe and sound. We have some repair jobs ahead of us and must still match up some chairs with correct wheels, but on the whole we got a good start today. Here’s an “after” photo:

Neat rows of wheelchairs after a day of unloading.

A rainbow-like row of assembled wheelchairs at the end of a long day.

Tomorrow we will head to the warehouse for a full day of sorting and organizing, with the help of students on spring break from Yale. Several of them have helped us in the past so we will have experienced hands and student energy is a wonderful thing!

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