In October 2022, the Walkabout Team returned to the Dominican Republic to provide 200 paediatric wheelchairs to children in need. For this distribution, we worked together with our partner,Centro de Atención Integral para la Discapacidad (CAID), and a group of volunteers from Team Canada Healing Hands.
The majority of the kids we met never had a wheelchair before, and for them their new chair represented a world of new opportunities – to go to school, make new friends, and be independent for the very first time. On behalf of all the children whose lives were changed during this distribution, thank you from the bottom of our hearts. None of this would be possible without your support.
To support our work in the Dominican Republic and provide mobility to kids in need, donate today by clicking below.
Feruzi lives in Kiangai and has Cerebral Palsy. Both his parents are very supportive and do their best to take care of him and each other. After receiving his wheelchair life became so much better for Feruzi and his parents! Now they can take him to church, and he is much more involved in his local community. His wheelchair makes it so much easier for his parents to move him around and he can play with his toys using the tray attached to the chair!
Almasi is from Karatina in Kenya. Since receiving her wheelchair her quality of life has improved so much, she is one of the happiest children in her village! Life was very hard for Almasi before her wheelchair, she was very isolated and couldn’t attend school. Now it is much easier for her to go out, she can travel to school and be much more independent. Her caregiver is also now able to work while Almasi is at school! She feels included in her local community and can participate in more activities when she is at home.
Northern Uganda hosts one of the world’s biggest refugee populations, with approximately 2 million refugees residing in the region today. Because of the South Sudanese war the country is under extreme pressure, and the need for wheelchairs is at an all time high.
This May, Walkabout returned to Uganda to distribute 320 wheelchairs and 50 trikes together with our incredible partners, World Action Fund and Hope Health Action. These chairs came from our Wheelchair Assembly & Repair Centre in Kenya, where they were built by our local team. So far, our partners have distributed 155 wheelchairs and 31 tricycles, and we look forward to distributing the rest in the coming months!
The need in the region is still overwhelming, and we need your support to help those in dire need. Click below to help us continue changing lives in Uganda.
This year, we have returned to Uganda, a country very close to our hearts, to distribute another 320 wheelchairs and 50 trikes. The wheelchairs came directly from our Wheelchair Assembly and Repair Centre in Kenya in a 40-foot container, which includes a variety of wheelchair types for adults and kids in need.
Meet Colines, a smiley and bright 8-year-old boy from Uganda He contracted polio when he was only three years old, and therefore has never been able to walk. His single mother has been forced to stay at home to look after him, making it very hard for her to find a stable job. When the local team met her she had tears of joy in her eyes. When we asked her why, she said: “Colines now has just as good a chance to be successful in his future as any other child!”
Thanks to your support, kids like Colines now have a chance at a bright future and an independent, happy life!
My name is Julie Williams and I’m the mother of Walkabout’s advocate, Kirk Williams.
Kirk was injured in a mountain biking accident in 2009, breaking his C4-6 vertebrae and injuring his spinal cord. Receiving that phone call and the weeks that followed brought me to my knees. Our family had lived an active lifestyle of swimming, hiking, biking, and adventuring pre-accident. We all had an easy, uncomplicated fun-loving relationship with Kirk. I wasn’t sure if that would ever happen again.
I will be honest, my maternal instincts and gravitational pull to Kirk became my Achilles heel following his injury. It strained me to the breaking point. He needed his space to heal while I felt I needed to be right by his side through everything. After a “come to Jesus” talk with Kirk, I realized the best thing I could do for him was to leave him in Colorado and return home to Virginia. After all, I had to accept I could not make this better. It was out of my control. I was making it worse for both of us. A harsh reality for a mom to face. But face it, I did.
Though there is no cure for someone who has suffered a Spinal Cord Injury yet, rehabilitation centers teach amazing ways for patients to adapt. I am blessed to have a son who took in all the suggestions and was able to build upon them… and then some.
Shortly after leaving the hospital, Kirk began going out for adventures with various adaptive sports organizations. His change in character was evident. Our conversations began shifting to what he was doing, not how he was doing. This was a remarkable improvement for the relationship between us as well.
As time went by, Kirk kept doing more and more. Before long he was doing even more than he did when he was able-bodied! I didn’t see that coming! We started to become creative about family vacations, in a good way. Rather than exchanging Christmas presents, we planned family trips to Cozumel, Belize and Maui, so the guys could SCUBA dive together, while all I needed was a good book, the beaches and quality time with my boys.
Recently, I’ve been finishing a children’s picture book called Bella Joins the Service; a story about Kirk and his amazing service dog, Bella. Bella tells about her dilemma and angst as Kirks’ best friend after he was first injured. She asks the questions, ‘What can I do? What if I jumped on top of him and licked him? Would that make him better?’ We follow her journey as she and her “Kirk” come full circle to live the same life they enjoyed before — just differently. This story, of course, parallels my journey as Kirk’s mom since the accident. Bella and I are the same in our love for our Kirk.
We are both so proud of Kirk, what he has achieved and what he will continue to achieve. As it turns out, we have come full circle and do enjoy the same life we had before… Just differently.
With love and hope,
This Mother’s Day in the UK, make all the moms in your life feel extra special. Give a woman in need the gift of mobility in honour of your mom today!
Walkabout Foundation is thrilled to announce that we are partnering up with Hope Health Action once again! This global strategic partnership will combine our knowledge of global wheelchair distribution services with HHA’s expertise in facilitating sustainable and innovative healthcare in Haiti.
There are an estimated 60 million people in the world who do not have access to a wheelchair because they cannot afford one. In Haiti, people with disabilities are among the most vulnerable, with conditions prohibiting their independence, and access to key services (such as education and healthcare), which prevents them from being a part of the community.
Walkabout Foundation and HHA strongly believe that everyone should have access to the dignity, freedom and independence that mobility brings. Together, we are building a brand new HHA Walkabout Distribution Centre in Haiti, which will provide locals with a regular and sustainable supply of wheelchairs, transforming hundreds of lives every year. The centre will become the single largest wheelchair provider in the country, acting as a regional hub for the Caribbean and Latin America. We are focused on a holistic approach of wheelchair provision and aim to eventually replicate our successful Kenya model.
“We are incredibly excited and humbled to be bringing the Haiti project to life alongside our long-standing partner, Hope Health Action, who are experts in the field of mobility disability and care needs in Haiti” says our co-founder, Carolina Gonzalez-Bunster. “We could not ask for a better partner, who have been working in Haiti for over 14 years and we strongly believe that together, we will make a sustainable impact in a country so close to our hearts and history.”
The team at HHA share Walkabout’s enthusiasm about this exciting new project. “Hope Health Action is delighted to be partnering with Walkabout Foundation on this exciting new project that will transform the lives of thousands of people across Haiti in the coming years” says Carywn Hill, CEO and co-founder of HHA. “This will be the country’s first national wheelchair distribution facility that will tackle a critical national need and transform rehabilitation efforts across Haiti.”
“Opening this new wheelchair distribution centre is a major step forward in fulfilling our joint dream to ensure everyone in Haiti who needs a wheelchair, can have access to one. There are few greater privileges in our work than to see the humbling transformation of someone who arrives at our hospital, crawling in the dust and dirt having never had a wheelchair, but later leaving; proud, independent and mobile with their life-transforming wheelchair.”
Together, we will hire local wheelchair riders to assemble and distribute a minimum of 900 wheelchairs every year, thereby investing in local expertise and creating lasting, sustainable change across the country! We can’t wait to share the developments of the project in the months and years to come!