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.
Completed chair with donor label
Four different sized chairs
Student receiving a new wheelchair