Since our last report, we have begun receiving requests from other NGOs and businesses in Haiti for our ATW wheelchairs. Word is spreading about these rugged chairs and how they are changing lives by giving people mobility in normally inaccessible areas.
During our last trip in July, our team was hosting a camp for disabled Haitians at a hotel at Kaliko Beach, about two hours outside Port-au-Prince. Several of our campers rolled around the hotel property for the week in our ATWs, not only navigating the patchy uneven concrete areas, but the sandy beach as well. At the end of our trip, hotel management asked us how they could get some of our wheelchairs for their handicapped guests. Since our team has yet to see a hotel or any other business offer accessibility in Haiti, we were thrilled to see a Haitian company taking an interest in implementing this in their facility.
Of course, we are excited for these opportunities and see this as an extension of our outreach to people with handicaps. It is our hope that, as we continue to distribute these chairs in Haiti, the local community will eventually turn their back on the stigma that currently surrounds disabled people in their country. Giving handicapped people mobility allows them to become more productive members of society, less of a burden on their families and gives the opportunity to develop much needed self-esteem.
You can be a part of this transformation, one wheelchair at a time.
Over the past few months we have been actively working with St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children to finish distributing our supply of All Terrain Wheelchairs (ATWs). Over 90% of the chairs have been distributed to people with disabilities in and around Port-au-Prince.
We continue to offer maintenance and repairs for those already in circulation and are constantly re-evaluating the wheelchairs for areas of improvement on the next shipment. Since our last report, the team discovered that the original tubes shipped with the chairs did not fare well in the intense Haitian heat and began researching alternatives.
After sending a variety of tubes to St. Vincent's to test in the climate, we identified ones that were more suitable to the extreme conditions. Orders were placed so that every wheelchair in circulation as well as those in storage would receive replacement tubes that would better hold air. Prior to shipment, each tube was tested by the manufacturer to ensure that there were no holes or defects.
By your continued support, we can meet our goals for this project:
We invite you to continue helping us support people with disabilities in Haiti.
In mid May, The Red Thread Promise is sending a team back to St. Vincent's to cover a multitude of projects. One of those action items is a follow up on the All Terrain Wheelchairs that we delivered in July 2011.
Tom and Kathy will be taking a variety of supplies to give the chairs a "tune up" including: 10 Bell Universal inner tubes, 10 Bell Ride On Universal bicycle tubes, 2 Schwinn bicycle floor pumps, 2 Bell air stomper foot pumps, 1 Black & Decker ASI300 air station inflator, 6 Tire levers and 2 nipple wrenches.
While in Port-au-Prince they will also be teaching the workers at St. Vincent's how to install and test the new tubes as well as some simple routine maintenance to keep the wheelchairs in good working order. We look forward to sharing news of a successful trip in our next GlobalGiving report.
Thank you to everyone who continues to support this project as we work toward setting up a full maintenance center in Port-au-Prince.
During the first week of January, 2012, The Red Thread Promise team was back in Port-au-Prince at St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children. Red Thread representatives had the opportunity to see multiple All Terrain Wheelchairs in use both on St. Vincent's grounds as well as on the coast at a camp the team hosted for 33 handicapped children.
After 6 months of use, the chairs were holding up well: the frames were in good shape; the tread on the wheels was intact; the casters in the front still rolling easily over the rugged surfaces; the brakes were strong. And, on a strictly visual note, the bright red fabric was a welcome relief to all of the gray and dust of the city.
While the chairs worked great in on the concrete at St. Vincent's, we are pleased to report that they also worked well at the coast. The beaches of Haiti are very rocky and rough, unlike the smooth sandy beaches of the US. The only wheelchair-bound people who were able to get directly on the beach were in our chairs. And what a great experience it was for them! Many had never been on a beach or even seen the ocean. The chairs allowed them to come within yards of the ocean and, in many cases, be lifted by one of our team members and brought into the water. Free from the confines of any wheelchair, they could move about fluidly and by their own will in the beautiful Carribbean sea. The children could experience the wonderful tehapeutic properties of water first-hand.
Our next step is to set up a maintenance center so that the wheelchairs are kept in top working condition at all times. We have identified a Haitian man with whom we have been working with for over a year that we plan to approach to conduct monthly maintenance on the chairs: from keeping air in the tubes, to adjusting the breaks, changing out seat pads as needed and everything in between, ensuring that the children continue to have mobility. This offers dual benefits, both to the people using our chairs and also to the man who will enjoy steady employment with a new found trade.
Because of your generous donations through GlobalGiving, we are able to pursue our repair and maintenance program in Haiti and begin expanding our All Terrain Wheelchair program to other developing countries. Thank you for your continued support of our work and people with handicaps in developing countries.
As you read in our last report, The Red Thread Promise team traveled to Haiti this summer (2011) to deliver 100 new all terrain wheelchairs to St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Over the past weeks, we were able to put together a video about our wheelchairs, highlighting portions of the assembly and distribution. The video also shares a bit about our philosophy and why we provide assistance in Haiti.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/VF_53N1feQA" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
During our next trip in January 2012, we will visit St. Vincent's and re-assess the wheelchairs after months of use. We feel that the follow up on these chairs is critical, to ensure that we providing the best possible care for these beautiful children and are doing our due diligence to you, our donors, who have made these gifts of mobility possible.
While we continue to raise funds to deliver additional wheelchairs to Haiti, we are excited to share that our first wheelchair has made it to Nicaragua! The Red Thread Promise partnered with a small non-profit from Oregon to provide Juan, a 42 year old man from El Lagartillo, Achuapa, with the same hearty wheelchair that we have sent to Haiti—one that could navigate the rugged dirt roads and paths. Juan spends his days in a wheelchair as a result of a congenital birth defect and had never received a new wheelchair until now. A single ATW was hand-carried from the states to Nicaragua by representatives from Partnership for Hope who have known and worked with Juan and his community for the past 25 years. We were thrilled to see the smile on his face and hope that this chair serves him well for years to come. For the full story, please visit our blog: http://redthreadpromise.blogspot.com/2011/10/first-atw-to-nicaragua.html
Thank you for your continued support!
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