The Red Thread Promise team returned to Haiti June 30 - July 2, 2011 to deliver 100 bright red NEW All Terrain wheelchairs to St. Vincent's Center for Handicapped Children! With the assistance of three Haitian friends, Ronald, Beloge and Fedelin, the team organized the shipment in the storage space (located one block away from the National Palace) before assembly could begin.
The initial goal was to set up one of each of the four different size wheelchairs. Team members examined every facet of each chair for damage during shipping. They tightened the front casters, ensured that the wheels were “true” (straight), mounted the seat cushion and gave the entire wheelchair a thorough inspection before it received a “thumbs up”. The final action was to apply one of The Red Thread's stickers, honoring the those who donated toward the shipment.
In our best effort to practice responsible wheelchair provision, all recipients were brought to the courtyard at the school where the four different size wheelchairs were set up. Unlike many organizations, The Red Thread Promise does not believe in a “one size fits all” philosophy. The older children and young adults capable of making their own decisions were able to test multiple chairs to determine which one was the right fit and would best suit their individual needs. Ronald helped us select the proper size wheelchairs for the youngest children who were waiting for us in the dormitory.
As soon as each recipient was matched with the proper size, the team set out to the storage area to gather the appropriate chairs and wheel them back to St. Vincent's School. One by one, each person climbed into his or her new seat, some independently while others required assistance. A few were tentative, moving gingerly and slowly, testing out the brakes and the maneuverability of the mountain bike tires that are so different than the smooth hospital wheels they are accustomed to. Others were quickly trying to figure out how they could do tricks, pop wheelies and fly around the courtyard.
While their reactions varied greatly, audible thank you’s in Kreyol, English, French and sign language abounded.
We are happy to have provided these chairs to St. Vincent’s and look forward to returning on future visits to check how the chairs are serving the children. Because of your generous monetary donations we could also provide enough replacement parts and tools for months to come. Thank you again for your continued support of The Red Thread Promise.
For additional information about the wheelchairs and The Red Thread Promise's work in Haiti, China and the United States, please visit our website at www.redthreadpromise.org.
We have shipped our second container of chairs, although working with customs in Haiti continues to be a big challenge. We had begun our efforts before the January 2010 earthquake, and need for these chairs has only increased. We have expanded our focus past amputees to those with any sort of disability that requires a wheelchair. To see the difference you can make, look at Diana as she is placed in her chair for the first time! To see the video, go to http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1753545092482
You might have heard about the problems all aid groups are having in getting supplies through customs. Our first container of wheelchairs is still in port but we are expecting progress any day now, and are sending a team down to Haiti in February to assist in distribution with the second container. The ATW program is not just about sending and distributing wheelchairs. It is about mobility for life, so we also set up programs to train and employ Haitians to assemble and repair the chairs, as well as bicycles and other small items, in order to keep the chairs in good-working order. Currently we are working directly with St Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children in Port au Prince to deliver some wheelchairs.
The first container of wheelchairs has gone to Haiti but is still working its way through the long customs process. We are optimistic that they will be released as early as this week and we have people ready to fly over for assembly and distribution. It’s going to be so exciting to see those chairs in use, and we’ll post photos as soon as we are there!
We have begun raising funds for a second shipment of chairs, earmarked for St. Vincent's for Handicapped Children's clinic. We are grateful for all donations, large and small – this is a great example of charitable funds that benefit a needy person directly. Thank you!
The first container of 50 wheelchairs, air pumps, tire patch kits and maintenance parts is estimated to arrive in Port au Prince on June 25 for delivery to Mountain Top Ministries. We may be able to send two TRTP volunteers to assemble, distribute, and document the process of getting these wheelchairs to those who need them most.
We have raised funds so far for about 31 chairs of the 144 needed to fill the second container.
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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
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