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.
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