Some international organizations believe that the number of people around the world who need a wheelchair but cannot afford one could be as high as 6% of the population of developing countries. For many of these people, living without a wheelchair limits their social contact, their ability to work or provide for their families, and keeps people with disabilities out of public life.
Many foundations nationally and internationally have recognized this huge need and are doing something about it! One such organization is the Wheelchair Foundation. The Wheelchair Foundation has delivered over 900,000 wheelchairs to date to people around the world in need of mobility since their founding in 2000. Their mission statement states: "The Wheelchair Foundation is a nonprofit organization leading an international effort to create awareness of the needs and abilities of people with physical disabilities, to promote the joy of giving, create global friendship, and to deliver a wheelchair to every child, teen and adult in the world who needs one, but cannot afford one."
When wheelchairs are donated around the world to many people living with disabilities, it is more than a gift of mobility. It is a gift of hope – hope for a better life. Another organization Wheels for the World was founded in 1994, and utilizes prison inmates to help refurbish used wheelchairs into like new condition. The chairs are then fitted and matched with people in developing countries in need. They collect over 10,000 wheelchairs each year, and rely on volunteers to help support their efforts. Recipients of their chairs also receive training to keep their chair in good working condition and the organization passes out Bibles to each of their recipients, which helps support their outreach mission.
These and many other foundations help put things into perspective for people with disabilities in developing countries. A wheelchair here in the United States can cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to several thousand dollars, and many of us are fortunate enough to have insurance to help cover some of those costs. Many of the recipients in developing countries do not have access to the needed funds or insurance resources. Organizations like the Wheelchair Foundation and Wheels for the World are able to refurbish and provide mobility for (often) a fraction of the cost of what a new chair would cost someone living in the United States.
You can learn more about these organizations online. You can even learn about how you can get involved as a volunteer or sign up to travel on a mission to help deliver chairs into the hands of those who need them most by clicking HERE.
*Photo from: ugandahope.wordpress.com