How Our All Terrain Wheelchairs Are Empowering People With Disabilities
Robert was an accomplished welder and farmer in Gramothe, Haiti before 2010. He is married and has two sons, one of whom hopes to become an engineer. However, Robert has a progressive condition that is causing him to lose the ability to use his legs. He has been immobile for quite some time and the doctor has not given him a prognosis.
In Haiti, the streets are uneven and bumpy, rendering “hospital-style” wheelchairs virtually useless. In the mountains, where Robert and the majority of Haitians live, dirt roads and rocky footpaths are common. However, The Red Thread Promise makes it possible for people like Robert to become more independent by providing them with all-terrain wheelchairs through our International Mobility Program (IMP). In fact, Robert is hopeful to return to welding since receiving his new wheelchair.
During our first trip to Haiti in 2009, we had no intention of starting IMP. But when we observed that hospital-style wheelchairs were not meeting the needs of those using them, it compelled us to seek out the best all-terrain wheelchairs available. We worked directly with a manufacturer to keep costs low while providing quality chairs specifically designed and built to traverse rugged terrain. Our chairs feature strong frames, flexible suspension, and wide front wheels especially for sand, rock and uneven surfaces.
In June 2011, we delivered a full shipment of 100 wheelchairs to St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince. Our team worked directly with the center to identify candidates for distribution, assemble the chairs, and provide maintenance training to our Haitian partners. Now, The Red Thread Promise is working to bring mobility to 100 additional people in and around Port-au-Prince as well as local businesses and hotels that are not accessible.
These gifts of mobility give people with disabilities (PWDs) more opportunities to fully engage in life. They promote better self and family care, and help recipients actively participate in educational and economic opportunities. Children can attend school with their peers, acquiring life skills that help them become independent adults. Teens and adults are better able to engage in meaningful work, providing financial stability to their families. Independence increases each individual’s sense of self-worth and self-respect in their home countries.