In June 2018, Walkabout embarked on one of our biggest fundraising ventures ever – we opened our very own week-long pop-up shop in Chelsea! The designer closet sale, which sold generous donors’ second-hand clothes, with at least 50% of the proceeds going to our projects, raised a whopping £70k gross – and £43k net!
We are so grateful to everyone that helped make this event such a success: from the two angel donors who covered the majority of the running costs, to everyone that donated clothes, and all the people that came along to do some guilt-free shopping for a good cause!
In April 2018, we travelled to Kenya to receive a very special container of wheelchairs. This was our first shipment of chairs from Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM), a US-based charity that designs and manufactures high quality, rough-terrain chairs, with whom we are now proud to be working in partnership.
By combining their wheelchair supply with our local contacts and expertise, we have so far been able to distribute 353 life-changing wheelchairs, restoring dignity, freedom and independence to hundreds of Kenyans.
Giving mobility to the millions of people who lack it around the world is a huge job – and we recognise that we can’t do it alone. That’s why we’re so grateful for partnerships with like-minded organisations like FWM, who share our goal of getting the right chairs to those that need it most. In the interconnected world we live in, there’s nothing stopping us from working with others to make a change. Together, we can change the world!
In February 2018, team Walkabout travelled to Sudan for the third time for our biggest ever distribution of 620 basic wheelchairs, paediatric chairs and tricycles. We spent two weeks in three locations in the capital, Khartoum, personally fitting hundreds of wheelchairs for children and adults in desperate need.
Every beneficiary differs in what they need in a wheelchair – where they will use it, the amount of support they need, and what it will enable them to do. For some, a wheelchair will simply allow them to sit up straight for the first time; for others, it will mean they can travel the huge distance to get to the market independently. That’s why it’s so important to have different types of wheelchair for different individuals: a basic rough terrain chair is perfect for giving mobility; a paediatric chair gives extra postural support to those that need it; and a trike allows users with good upper body strength to travel further distances. This distribution was particularly special because we had all three types of chairs in the same place at the same time – meaning that every single person was given the chair that was perfect for them!
We are so grateful to our partners – Usratuna, Khartoum Cheshire Home, NAPO, the Sudanese Foundation for People with Disabilities, and Haggar Trading – as well as everyone that volunteered their time on this trip, especially Maria Luz Haggar and Mary Alice Noto.
Clara Martínez Thedy is a recognised artist of the lens whose work has been widely exhibited around the world. Her photographs have also been published in a variety of books and magazines, as well as forming parts of important private art collections.
In 1987, Clara embarked on a journey to Africa which was destined to change the course of her life. She had set out to fulfil a dream cherished since childhood: to travel deep into the African plains to meet the Maasai tribe and discover the wildlife of this mysterious continent. Three decades later, as an experienced photographer, Clara relived this dream, and Africa Serena: 30 Years Later was born. This captivating book features a hand-picked selection of images of the ancient civilisation of the Maasai, and also captures the innocence and vulnerability of innumerable wild animals.
In January 2018, Clara launched her beautiful book with an exhibition at Christie’s London, featuring a selection of prints from the book (and a huge decorative bonsai tree!). Clara generously donated 100% of all proceeds from sales of the book and prints to Walkabout, and together we raised an amazing £67,000!
If you would like to buy a book or print, please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org or call her on 0207 581 36 80 to organise payment and collection from our offices.
Northern Uganda is the epicentre of one of the biggest refugee crises in the world. With thousands of people flooding into the country every single day, mainly fleeing conflict in South Sudan, life in the sprawling camps is a constant battle for survival. Just imagine living in one of these camps without mobility.
Thanks to the corporate sponsorship from Euromonitor International, we travelled to Northern Uganda in November 2017. Together with our local partners Hope Health Action and World Action Fund, we distributed 250 wheelchairs and 40 trikes to refugees and host communities.
This is one of the poorest parts of the country, and the additional strain on resources resulting from the refugee crisis meant that almost every person we met had never had a wheelchair before. That said, the atmosphere throughout the two weeks was one of joy and hope, and every distribution was filled with smiles, laughter, and even singing!
Sierra Leone is one of the poorest countries in the world, still trying to heal the scars of a brutal 10-year civil war which ended in 2002, leaving the country with a serious lack of infrastructure and overwhelming poverty. In 2014, it saw its already extremely fragile healthcare system collapse even further when it was struck by Ebola, causing a large number of international aid organisations to leave.
We travelled to Sierra Leone in October where we distributed 117 wheelchairs. Many of our beneficiaries had been disabled as a result of disease and lack of adequate care, but many others are still a living reminder of the cruelty of the civil war, in which amputation was a signature atrocity. We met Lamin, a 40-year-old local, who lost his leg during the war. He is now a member of an amputee football team, many of whom we gave wheelchairs to, and was delighted with his new chair, which will allow him to travel longer distances and farm vegetables to support his wife and five children.
In July 2017, we visited Laikipia County, Kenya, where we distributed 228 paediatric chairs alongside our amazing local partner, UDPL. This means that we have now distributed over 1,000 wheelchairs in Kenya, reaching 21 out of the 47 counties, and impacting an estimated 3,000 lives!
When we began distributing chairs with UDPL back in 2014, the need in Laikipia County was immense. Many of the people we met had never before had a wheelchair, and had been forced to drag themselves along the ground to get around or simply spend all of their time inside their homes, isolated and stigmatised. As we began to give out wheelchairs, we started to see a change – every time we returned, we saw fewer people in need from Laikipia, In fact, people were coming from further and further away to get to our distributions – a great indication that what we were doing was really working.
Now, over 1,000 Walkabout wheelchairs are changing lives in 21 counties right across Kenya. That’s 1,000 people that are more visible in their communities; able to work or go to school, and living with the dignity. freedom and independence that they deserve. Thank you for helping us to make this happen!
On June 16th, we hosted our Inaugural Women4Walkabout Ladies Luncheon at Claridge’s Hotel, Mayfair. This event, sponsored by Buccellati, brought 320 women together and raised an incredible £250,000 for women affected by disability all over the world. Surrounded by hundreds of beautiful flower bouquets, handmade by our co-founders’ mother, Monica Gonzalez-Bunster, guests were treated to a champagne reception followed by a three-course lunch, silent auction, and speeches from Carolina Gonzalez-Bunster and Tania Bryer. There wasn’t a dry eye in the room when Walkabout beneficiary Charity Nana spoke about her life before her wheelchair, and how it was transformed with the gift of mobility. The afternoon was topped off with a spectacular live auction, chaired by Harry Dalmeny, and the chance to win a pair of unique Buccellati earrings for each table.
We are incredibly grateful to every single person that helped make this event such a success – from our amazing headline sponsors, to the donors of the incredible prizes for the live and silent auctions, to the wonderful guests that made the day what it was. Every penny raised will go towards transforming the lives of women in desperate need – and for that, we are truly grateful.
In April 2015, a devastating earthquake shook Nepal, killing nearly 9,000 people and injuring nearly 22,000. A few months after, Walkabout sent a relief container of 100 wheelchairs, with the hope of restoring dignity, freedom and independence to the people who had lost so much.
The disaster may have been almost two years ago, but its presence is still being felt across the country. That’s why last week, we returned to Nepal to distribute 250 chairs to people with spinal cord injuries, alongside our local partner, Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC).
Many people live extremely remotely in Nepal, and often those we met had travelled for many hours (and in some cases, even days) to receive their chair. Tulashi, pictured above, was injured when she fell out of a tree 9 years ago. She paid her neighbour to carry her for three hours just to reach the closest road to her village, and then spent two days on three buses to reach the centre, where she received a chair that means she no longer has to spend all of her time isolated and alone at home.
We spent the week building, fitting, and modifying 250 rough terrain wheelchairs – each of which represented a world of opportunity to its recipient; whether it was the possibility of starting a business, returning to work, or even just being able to leave the house alone to go to the market.
In December 2016, Team Walkabout travelled to Uganda, where we distributed 200 wheelchairs and 20 tricycles with our partner Soft Power Health. Izzy, our Programmes Manager, and Isabel, our CEO, were joined by Heather Williams, our star volunteer physiotherapist, and two students, Luca and Manuel, from Wetherby Senior School in London.
Every day the team would return home, after hours of travelling on bumpy roads, exhausted and covered from head to toe in red dust, but feeling incredibly thankful that they could really change the lives of people in need on these trips. In the words of our young Wetherby volunteers: “Above all, the best experience has been seeing, meeting and communicating with the beneficiaries.”
As always, we met some wonderful people, including Paul (pictured), who is 17 years old and an avid Manchester United supported (in spite of Luca and Manuel’s decisive efforts to transform him into a Chelsea fan while he waited for his chair!). Paul has been unable to walk his entire life, and is delighted with his new chair because it means he will be able to continue with his education.
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In December 2016, following our trip to Uganda, Team Walkabout travelled straight to Kenya, where we distributed 230 wheelchairs with our longstanding partner, United Disabled People of Laikipia. This distribution was particularly special as we were accompanied by one superstar volunteer, Lulu Dillon, pictured above.
Last year, Lulu embarked on a gruelling 500km trek across Spain, along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela. Accompanied by our very own Programmes Manager, lzzy, who walked beside her, she managed to raise a phenomenal £11,520 from more than 100 friends for Walkabout. We were ecstatic to have Lulu as part of our Kenyan distribution as she single-handedly funded a quarter of the value of the container and 60 of the 230 wheelchairs we fitted!
The dedication and generosity of people like Lulu never ceases to amaze us. If you find inspiration in Lulu’s story and would like to be more involved with Walkabout, please get in touch. You too can help change lives!