In Uganda, we had the opportunity to work with this young man. He was 21, and spent his whole day inside his family’s small, one room dwelling. The family didn’t own a car/motorcycle – they had one bicycle that they shared. There was no way to transport him to school, work, church, or the market. If he left the house, he was being carried by his family.
Paralysed from the waist down since he was 10, his only way to get around was to pull himself on the ground with his arms, dragging his legs. We’ve met many people like him, whose legs are filled with scabs and scars from being scraped continuously on the ground.
In a western country, after the accident that caused his paralysis, he would have been fitted immediately with a wheelchair. A very intelligent man, he would have gone to school, and found a job to help his family. In rural Uganda, he was confined to his family’s home, often just sitting or lying on the ground. He was unable to complete school, and certainly not able to work or even go out to see friends.
This wheelchair, fitted by TCHH and supplied by the Walkabout Foundation provides him independence, promotes inclusion, and helps in feeling self worth. He can show his community what he can offer now, and gain the respect he deserves.
Apparently he can get out while popping wheelie’s too…he picked it up really quickly! Part of our services beyond fitting people with chairs, and training local technicians is training new wheelchair owners how to move around. Wheelies, other than being fun, are needed to get over uneven surfaces.
Wheelchairs make such an incredible difference in people’s lives. The startling difference between being confined to your home, dependent on your family, versus building your own life with the mobility a wheelchair offers is incredible. We were so fortunate to have met this young man, as he reminds us that everyone has a lot to offer given the right tools and opportunities.