Dear Friends of the Polus Center,
In 1997 a small group of friends from Northampton Massachusetts volunteered to accompany me on a visit to Nicaragua. All of us were from diverse backgrounds, an artist, a lawyer, a minister, a photographer and me as Executive Director of the Polus Center. The purpose of our visit was to help landmine victims who had suffered limb loss to receive artificial limbs so that they could regain their mobility, return to work and once again live active and meaningful lives within their communities. My friends and I had never been to Nicaragua before and most of us didn’t know where it was on the map. Poor geography skills, no Spanish speakers in our group and little understanding of the, soon to be realized, complexity of our mission did not deter us from our initial task – to help others to help themselves.
I believe I can speak for the group and say that our first visit to Leon, Nicaragua opened up a new world for all of us. We learned that even though we had no funding, were not medical professionals, or trained in international development, or had traveled extensively, that if we listened to what people in Nicaragua were saying and if we planned carefully and committed ourselves to a single purpose we could indeed help others.
In 1999 the Polus Center opened Walking Unidos, its first prosthetic clinic in Leon, Nicaragua. Walking Unidos continues to this day to produce hundreds of artificial limbs for the poorest of the poor. Since the opening of the first clinic my friends and I and many new volunteers have traveled to countries around the world doing international development work. We have opened schools and rehabilitation clinics in Central America, provided agricultural assistance and housing improvements for coffee farmers in Colombia, offered shelter and psychological support to victims fleeing Syria’s civil war, helped landmine survivors in Iraq and Tajikistan, delivered an emergency medical rescue boat to the Peruvian Amazon and much more. We have traveled to Central and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Africa; to listen, to learn and to do what we believe in most – to face life’s challenges and struggles together.On June 16 more than 100 people gathered for a terrific night at beautiful Smith College Conference Room overlooking Paradise Pond to share great food, music, and an incredible silent and live auction thanks to the contributions of so many local restaurants, artists and businesses, and to support and learn more about the work of the Polus Center. Because of everyone’s incredible generosity we met our goal of close to $20,000. We offer our sincere gratitude to those who came, to those who volunteered or donated to the auction or make contributions, and to the many people who have been friends of the Polus Center since we began our journey into humanitarian victim assistance throughout the world. We look forward to another great year and thank you for your ongoing support!
Michael Lundquist, Executive Director