MANILA, Philippines — Galliano Corbito used to beg for money along the busy streets of downtown Manila. Propelling himself with his hands along the ground on a small wooden platform with wheels, he wove his way through throngs of people every day, hoping for a kind soul that would shell out a few pesos so he could buy himself a meal.

That is, until he received a wheelchair from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Galliano and longtime friends Arturo Quipoz and Jerry Icaro recently received wheelchairs from the Church through the National Council for the Welfare of Disabled Persons (NCWDP). As part of its worldwide humanitarian initiative, the Church provides wheelchairs to the poor and needy. In the Philippines, the Church partners with local organizations like the NCWDP so that they can in turn fulfill their missions of providing wheelchairs to the needy.

These three men are only a few of the many disabled people in the Philippines who have to resort to begging because their limited mobility prevents them from getting a job or finding a means to support themselves.

Arturo Quipoz, after receiving a wheelchair, pointing out the items for sale at his booth in a Quiapo market. © 2007 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“Many people in our group need wheelchairs to improve not only their self-sufficiency, but more importantly, their dignity,” said Quipoz, who is also president of Manila Disabled Incorporated. “We want to be self-supporting. With a wheelchair, we can be more productive,” he added.

When Elder Philip and Sister La Dawn Empey, Church Humanitarian Services country directors, last visited Galliano and his friends, they were busy tending their booths in a market, their wives and children by their side helping to sell their wares. Compared to when they first received their wheelchairs, all three men were cleaner cut, better dressed and more confident.

Gone are the metal spikes that used to protect Galliano’s hands from wear as he propelled himself on his little wooden platform. Instead, a man with an increased sense of self-worth sits proudly on his wheelchair.