Foundation provides wheelchairs, other aid to poor and disabled in Peru
December 1, 2021
“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40
More than 3,500 miles away from Nebraska, in the rural mountains of Peru, among the poor and physically challenged, Rolando Luna has found Jesus.
One would have to look carefully, though, for the hidden Lord.
He was disguised, for example, as a young Peruvian woman who couldn’t walk and didn’t want to be a burden for her family. He was also discovered in a father looking for a way to safely transport his son, who has a condition in which his bones break easily, a condition that had confined the boy to his home.
In Luna’s native Peru, he has reached out to Jesus in hundreds of instances by helping to provide wheelchairs, walkers, blankets, canes, walking sticks for the blind, and other supplies to people living in extreme poverty in remote, rural areas.
Through a new foundation – Foundation Path of Hope – Luna, a member of St. Michael Parish in South Sioux City, hopes to help even more people.
The goal of the foundation, founded in September 2020, is to give the poor and disabled more independence by helping them with basic needs.
The young woman, for example, was given a wheelchair and can now help provide for her family by selling handcrafted woven items and candy.
The father has sent photos to Luna, showing him and his son in different parts of their city after they were given a wheelchair that also converts into a bed.
Peru has more than 1.6 million people with disabilities, and the government provides them no aid, said Alberto Castillo, vice president of the foundation and a member of the Cathedral of the Epiphany Parish in Sioux City, Iowa.
Children in Peru are often malnourished, he said, and health care is not readily available in the remote areas. “That’s why he’s trying to help them with whatever we can do,” Castillo said of Luna.
The two friends and other organizers hope to raise awareness about Path of Hope in Nebraska and throughout the United States to help increase donations and provide more equipment and aid to Peruvians in need.
Luna said he is willing to speak at parishes and other organizations to share his experiences, using an English-speaking translator where needed.
He’s lived in the United States for 21 years and has a deep appreciation for his adopted home and its residents, he said through Castillo, who translated for him. “The U.S.A. is a really great country,” Luna said, that enables him to help others.
Father James de Anda, a judge on the archdiocese’s metropolitan tribunal and a board member for the Path of Hope foundation, said Luna is passionate about his volunteer efforts.
“He has a great deal of love and compassion for his people,” Father de Anda said. “He wants to raise people to a higher dignity, and it’s all motivated by a love of his people.”
Luna’s missionary work began about seven years ago with a modest request, when a friend asked him to send eight wheelchairs to Peru for people in need.
In trying to respond to that request, Luna found that it was more difficult to get eight wheelchairs to the country than to send hundreds. He asked for help from Hope Haven International, a charity that specializes in distributing refurbished wheelchairs to adults and children around the world.
Through that collaboration, Hope Haven helped Luna personally deliver 600 wheelchairs to Peruvians.
But he felt called to do more, Luna said.
In 2019, with the help of another charitable organization, Orphan Grain Train in Norfolk, he helped deliver 10 tons of blankets to Peruvians. More shipments of supplies followed, and more plans are in the works.
WANT TO HELP?
Donations can be sent to Foundation Path of Hope, 301 W. 29th Street, South Sioux City, NE, 68776.
To volunteer or offer other aid, contact Castillo at 712-899-2731. Spanish speakers can also call Luna at 712-281-6503.
More information is available at https://foundationpathofhope.org/.