Active Events News
Active Events

Sierra Leone 2017

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.

Walkabout distributes 1000th chair in Kenya!

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!

Women4Walkabout Ladies Luncheon

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.

 

Nepal 2017

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.

Wetherby schooboys join Walkabout in Uganda

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.

Your support is helping us transform lives all over the world. Donate now to allow us to keep doing what we do!

Lulu’s journey from El Camino to Kenya

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!

Creating smiles in Ecuador

In November, Walkabout carried out our first ever distribution in Ecuador, where we travelled to some of the areas most affected by the devastating earthquake earlier this year.

We distributed 280 chairs to children and adults in need, lots of whom had lost their family members and homes in the disaster. But in spite of the overwhelming hardship that has recently hit the lives of so many of the people we met, the week was filled with smiles, excitement, and gratitude.

We want to say a special thank you to our local partners, Fundacion Vista Para Todos and Hope Haven Guatemala, whose skills, local knowledge and passion made this distribution such a success.

None of this would have been possible without your support. If you would like to donate to Walkabout so that we are able to continue embarking on life-changing distributions like this one, simply click on the ‘donate’ tab above.

First distribution in El Salvador

In October 2016 Walkabout travelled to El Salvador to distribute 250 paediatric wheelchairs.

Several of the children we met had been spinal cord injured as a result of the gun violence that has plagued the country for so long. The capital, San Salvador, is considered the deadliest city in the Western Hemisphere. Alicia, one of our recipients, was caught in a crossfire between two gangs when she was just a year and a half old, leaving her paralysed from the waist down. She is now 8, loves pizza and learning English, and is an incredibly intelligent and independent little girl. She was delighted when we gave her a new wheelchair, as hers was far too small and falling apart, and insisted on getting into it without any help! We never cease to admire the strength and resilience of the children we meet on our distributions.

We want to say a huge thank you to all our donors, to our local partner, Fundación Red de Sobrevivientes, and to the team from Hope Haven Guatemala, many of whom are wheelchair users themselves and travelled all the way from their country to help us fit all the chairs.

5th Annual London Walkabout – Best ever!

On Saturday 8th October, we held our 5th Annual London Walkabout in Hyde Park. As promised, it was our biggest and best London Walkabout ever, with over 1,300 people buying tickets (surpassing all previous Walkabouts!) to walk for those who can’t at our flagship fundraising event.

In spite of the typically British weather (all four seasons in one day!), spirits were high, and all the dynamic marquees, activities, picnic and goody bags were enjoyed to the full by all – even the sun came out just in time for the walk!

We want to say a HUGE thank you to each and every person that helped make this event such a success: from the incredible mums in our committee who put so much effort into creating the awesome marquees and selling tickets, to all the corporate and individual sponsors who donated to the event, to every single person that bought a ticket and attended the walk.

All of this work, support and dedication meant that we raised an AMAZING AND RECORD BREAKING £100,000 NET – every penny of which will go towards restoring dignity, freedom and independence to people all around the world. None of this would have been possible without your superhuman efforts and on behalf of all those who will benefit immeasurably from your kindness, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

If you were unable to attend the walk but would still like to donate to our cause, simply click the ‘Donate’ button above. And stay tuned for the official London Walkabout 2016 video – starring some incredible #WalkaboutHeroes!

Uganda 2016

This past June, Walkabout travelled back to Jinja, Uganda for the third time. With our fantastic partner, Soft Power Health Clinic, we have now distributed over 600 wheelchairs in the region and for the first time ever, we brought and distributed 30 tricycles (‘trikes’) alongside 200 wheelchairs. Trikes are exceptionally useful for those people with disabilities who have a need to travel long distances to get to school, work, and other villages.

During our trip, we met many inspirational individuals with both moving and uplifting stories. Today we’d like to share just one with you.

Sofia’s Story

Sofia, 32 years old, contracted polio as a young girl, which left her paralysed from the waist down. She lives with her baby Quima and her parents, who support her, along with her 12 nieces and nephews. The family had a coffee plantation and were financially stable. But since their coffee crops were destroyed by a disease in the soil, feeding the family and sending the children to school has become a constant struggle.

We gave Sofia a trike, and both she and her family were beyond delighted – Sofia will now be able to go out to the plantation and contribute to the family business. She’ll also be able to bring Quima with her and they’ll no longer be housebound. Sofia missed visiting her friends, leaving the house, going to prayers, attending burials (an important aspect of Ugandan life) and being a part of the community. These are all things that she is now able to do, thanks to her new trike.

We are so proud to have been able to give Sofia, her family, and numerous others like her a chance. They now all have their own story to tell.

The happy ending to Sofia’s story (and the numerous other happy endings we were able to bring about on this trip) would simply not have been possible without your generous and unwavering support. We thank you for helping us help others.

Kenya 2016

In June 2016, the Walkabout team headed back to Kenya for our third distribution at the United Disabled People of Laikipia (UDPL) clinic in the town of Nanyuki, located at the foothills of Mount Kenya. We distributed 230 wheelchairs (an assortment of Tough Riders, paediatric chairs and tricycles) and, as always, we were struck by the immense friendliness and positivity of everyone we met – from grateful recipients to the incredible local volunteers.

For the first few days of our trip, we were joined by a group of 12 teachers from Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut, USA. Their interactions with the recipients were filled with love and respect, and their energy and dedication truly enhanced everyone’s experience on the trip.

After long days of fitting each recipient to each wheelchair, our Programs Manager and new staff member, lzzy and Merren, then took part in a World Health Organisation Wheelchair Provision training course. Walkabout not only funded this training for our own employees, but also for the local volunteers that we rely on in Nanyuki.

Our last few days in Kenya were then spent applying our new knowledge while we modified and fitted chairs for children with severe and complex disabilities. It was extremely rewarding work, with our modifications often meaning that these disabled kids could hold their heads up alone or sit up straight for the first time. When asked what he was going to do with his new chair, 14 –year-old William said simply: “I’m going to be comfortable!”

We are so grateful to our partners in Nanyuki, UDPL, who always make us feel at home and whose support is invaluable. And the biggest thank you goes to you, our donors, whose generosity makes all of this possible.

Luxury fashion fundraising at Bottega Veneta

On Tuesday May 24 2016, Walkabout held their first ever collaboration with the luxury brand Bottega Veneta at their Sloane Street location, in celebration of the Chelsea Flower Show. Walkabout supporters, as well as some of Bottega Veneta’s most noteworthy clients, admired their latest Spring collection and mingled over cocktails and canapes. Our co-founder Carolina also spoke about Walkabout, our mission and vision, and thanked the entire team at Bottega for hosting us.

The evening was an overwhelming success with over 80 people attending and Bottega generating a staggering £60,000 in sales in a matter of hours! Bottega Veneta kindly donated 10% of sales to Walkabout, which, including pledges, generated more than £7,000 for our cause. This was by far the most successful brand collaboration for Walkabout to date, which is a testament to the strength of our team and the effectiveness of our message to our donors.

We are now working closely with Bottega Veneta to possibly organise an event in New York; watch this space!