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Active Events

Kenya 2015

In June 2015 Walkabout Foundation travelled back to the United Disabled Persons of Laikipia (UDPL) clinic in Nanyuki, Kenya, to distribute a further 200 wheelchairs. This year we also funded our first ever World Health Organisation Wheelchair Provision Training run by our supplier and partner, Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya (APDK).

During the first week, nine local Kenyans and one Walkabout team member were fully trained in how to medically assess, fit and support wheelchair recipients. Our local partner, UDPL carefully hand-picked those who would be trained, individuals who work within the disabled community but lacked the fundamental knowledge and skills to serve those who need wheelchairs. Empowered by their training, Walkabout now has a network of motivated and proficient local volunteers who can serve wheelchair users on a day-to-day basis, even while our team is not present.

The following week they were able to put their new abilities into practice. With the help of UDPL, a few physios, local volunteers and a team of faculty members from Greenwhich County Day School in Connecticut, Walkabout distributed 200 rough terrain wheelchairs to adults and children in desperate need of one.

The entire team were deeply moved and humbled to see the impact that one wheelchair has. It really is indescribable the moment of pure joy when someone first moves onto their new wheelchair, you can see a world of opportunity open up on their face in an instant. As President Clinton insightfully said at the recent Walkabout Inaugural Gala: “It’s not just mobility, it’s possibility.”

Thank you to all of our volunteers, partners and most of all to our supporters who made all of this possible.

Haiti 2014

100 wheelchairs are now making their way to Haiti, just in time for Christmas, as part of Walkabout’s ongoing commitment to change more lives and help the country recover from the devastating earthquake back in 2010.

This directly follows on from another very successful distribution of 300 wheelchairs in November, bringing the total number of chairs sent to Haiti this year to 720. The Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe, has been taking a really hands-on approach, helping our trained volunteers to build and individually fit the wheelchairs, and we witnessed first-hand evidence of yet more people for whom chairs have changed lives.

One person whose life was transformed by her custom-fitted Walkabout chair is 17-year-old Iclide Simeon, from Jacmel in southern Haiti, who lost the use of her legs after she was shot in September 2013. Iclide was beginning to develop a postural deformity in her spine owing to an ill-fitting wheelchair from which she repeatedly fell. Now, thanks to her new Rough Rider chair, Iclide can comfortably and independently receive the physical rehabilitation, psychosocial support and vocational skills training she needs to prepare her for reintegration into the community.

Another Rough Rider recipient for whom life is much less of a struggle is 31-year-old Zephyrin Chrism, who became paraplegic after falling from a tree in April of this year. Zephyrin was experiencing extreme discomfort from using a wheelchair that was too small from him, but is now very happy and his new chair he received in October is his pride and joy.

We would like to say a huge thank you to our local partner in Haiti, BSEIPH, and in particular to David Charles and Gerald Oriol for all their hard work. And we would also like to thank all of you who have supported our endeavour in Haiti through your generous donations. So far these have enabled us to distribute 2,300 of the 10,000 chairs we originally pledged. If you would like to change more lives like these by making a contribution to this programme, or to a project in any of the other countries to which we distribute, just follow the tab above to our “donate” page and give whatever you can.

Walkabout returns to Pakistan

In 2014, Walkabout Foundation returned to Pakistan for a second time to transform the lives of 250 men and women across Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi. These individuals, struggling with mobility disabilities in Pakistan, were provided with RoughRider wheelchairs which are exclusively designed for the rugged and rough terrain of the developing world.

One recipient, Muhammad Junaid, 14 years old from Islamabad, told us: “He was born with polio and for the past 14 years, he has crawled on the ground as his family didn’t have any money to buy him a wheelchair. He has spent the last 14 years crawling on the ground using only a piece of rubber strapped to his waist to protect his buttocks and lower limbs as he shuffled. Despite all these difficulties, he never gave up; in fact he was motivated to excel and do well in school. He and his family are very thankful to Walkabout Foundation for providing him with a wheelchair which has given him mobility and therefore freedom and independence. Muhammad would like to become a school teacher when he grows up, proof that in fact #chairschangelives.”

Our successful distribution would not have been possible without the help of our local Pakistani partner, Mahvash and Jahangir Siddiqui Foundation, and a special thank you to Ali Munir without whom this distribution would not have been possible. Thank you for helping to change more lives in Pakistan!

Walkabout’s first trip to Cuba

On 28 October 2014, Walkabout visited Cuba for the very first time. In partnership with ACLIFIM, a Cuban organization that works with physically handicapped people and amputees to help them integrate into society, we launched our first project with a distribution of 250 wheelchairs. 200 Rough Riders and 50 paediatric chairs were individually fitted to people in need from Mayabeque, Havana, Artemisa and Matanzas.

We would like to say a special thank you to a very generous donor, Eduardo Costa, whose amazing fundraising efforts in the New York City half marathon back in March made all this possible. If you would like to raise money for Walkabout and have a say in where we distribute our wheelchairs, just send us an email at info@walkaboutfoundation.org.

Malawi 2014

On the 25th July, Team Walkabout returned to Malawi for a second time to individually fit 250 wheelchairs. Bryony and Stefanie were accompanied by summer intern, Phaedra de Saint Rome on this trip to work in partnership with MAP (Malawi Against Physical Disability).

During the week, the team travelled the entire length of the country to ensure as many people as possible could be fitted. Fittings were carried out in Blantyre, Zomba, Lilongwe and Rumphi covering a total of 676 miles in a few short days. The team made many new friends, all with inspirational stories but one that stood out for us in particular is Talandila, aged 13, pictured above, whose face lit up when her mother told Walkabout that she would finally be able to start school in September. Another amazing example of how chairs change lives.

Our successful distribution would not have been possible without the help of MAP’s incredible team -Thank you for helping us to change more lives in Malawi! Special thanks also go to Phaedra for her invaluable help throughout the week.

Haiti 2014

Team Walkabout recently travelled to Haiti, the country where we first donated wheelchairs after the devastating earthquake in 2010. Monica Gonzalez-Bunster and Director of Programs Stefanie Haigh took a trip to Port-au-Prince, Fond des Blancs, Cap-Haitien and Central Plateau to meet some of the individuals whose lives have been changed by the donation of a Walkabout wheelchair.

They were told many inspiring stories of previous recipients who have now started a new career, hobby or life as a Walkabout wheelchair user. For example, Eugene Fritzner (pictured above with Monica) is now a prominent wheelchair athlete! The team also spent some time visiting our partners, BSEIPH (the Secretary of State’s Office for Persons with Disability), to talk about our ongoing pledge to donate 10,000 wheelchairs to Haiti, as well as talking to customs officials to ensure a smooth donation arrivals process into the country.

All in all, it was a very successful trip. Thank you to everyone who has donated to Walkabout since the beginning. Your money has enabled us to change thousands of lives and make a huge impact on a country that desperately needed help.

India 2014

On the 31st May 2014, Team Walkabout travelled to India for the first time to distribute 250 Leverage Freedom Chairs (LFC) alongside The Association of People with Disability (APD) Bangalore. Bryony and Georgie were accompanied by a team from GoGrit, designers and manufacturers of the LFC.

The LFC is a new rough-terrain wheelchair where the riders push levers instead of the wheels, giving them the torque they need to move beyond to pavement. As well as a full distribution day at the main APD campus in Bangalore, the team also travelled to a number of districts throughout the state of Karnataka to fit all 250 wheelchairs during the five-day distribution.

Walkabout would like to commend APD on their outstanding commitment to helping the disabled community of Karnataka, and all of the support and hard work in helping put together such a well organised and successful week. Special thanks also goes to the team from GoGrit for their invaluable help.

Indonesia 2014

After a wheelchair training course in Indonesia in April 2014, Team Walkabout also spent a few days distributing chairs for Indonesians on the island of Java, in the Yogyakarta area, before heading to Bali to change more lives.

Stefanie and Bryony spent some time meeting the United Cerebral Palsy Wheels for Humanity (UCP Roda Untuk Kemanusiaan) team in Yogyakarta, touring their workshop and learning from their well-established in-country system, before donating just under 50 intermediate chairs to the local community alongside the UCPRUK team. Team Walkabout then flew to donate more chairs in Bali in the Rendang area alongside Puspadi Bali, UCPRUK’s Balinese partner. This was Team Walkabout’s first venture into South-East Asia and we were not only touched by the local hospitality but also grateful to the teams for all of their guidance.

Thank you to UCPWFH, UCPRUK and Puspadi Bali for helping us to change more lives in a new area.

Uganda 2014

Team Walkabout headed to Uganda in March 2014 to distribute 200 wheelchairs alongside Soft Power Health’s Allan Stone Community Clinic in Bujugali near Jinja. Bryony and Stefanie were accompanied by our US Chairman, Kevin Mahaney as well as some fantastic volunteers from both the UK and Uganda.

As well as a full distribution day at the clinic, the team also loaded up a truck full of wheelchairs and visited children homes and made journeys to remote villages and individual houses to fit and donate chairs. Being able to change a person’s life in their own home environment, by demonstrating the correct way to enter the home, go up steps and keep the chair in the best condition was extremely rewarding for the entire extended team. We are proud to have been able to make a difference in the lives of those who could only have wished for the independence and mobility that a chair gave them.

Walkabout would like to thank Soft Power Health, the community clinic staff and volunteers, UK physiotherapist Heather Williams who volunteered her time and knowledge, as well as the local kayaking community who pitched in with some of the heavy lifting. Another successful trip!

Kenya 2014

Team Walkabout were in Kenya for the first time in January 2014. Stefanie and Bryony flew out to Nanyuki for a full five day distribution alongside the United Disabled Persons of Laikipia (UDPL) during which 200 wheelchairs were fitted. As part of the official inauguration of their brand new disability centre, various members of the local government, including the Governor of Laikipia himself and the Minister of Health for the area, came to meet the team and show their support for the project. Kenya is making leaps and bounds in the support of those living with a disability and it’s a model that Walkabout hope to see more of across the developing world.

Some of the lives changed in Kenya include 33 year-old Martin, a signwriter known by almost everyone in the local community, who is paralysed from the waist down. He will now be able to work twice as fast at his workshop desk because he won’t have to use one hand just to balance as he works.

Walkabout would like to commend UDPL on their outstanding commitment to helping the disabled community of Laikipia, Kenya and their extremely hard work in helping to put together a very organised and successful week. Special thanks also go to Emmeline Carr of The Oriana Project for the introduction to UDPL as well as to her parents Laura and Peter for their invaluable help throughout the week.

In Kenya they say, ‘Disability is not Inability’, and we couldn’t agree more. Hakuna Matata!

Rwanda 2013

In December 2013, Team Walkabout had the pleasure of returning to Rwanda to work alongside PIH and distribute wheelchairs to those in need. This time, we went back purely for children armed with 120 UCP Kid Chairs and a fitting and technical team from UCP Wheels For Humanity. The week was split into 3 districts: Rwinkwavu, Kirehe and Butaro, where we were honoured with mayoral ceremonies. We met a whole host of beautiful children and their parents, who told us many stories of the hardships they had faced before and how grateful they now were for a wheelchair. Further proof that chairs really do change lives.

Walkabout would like to thank PIH Rwanda and UCP for their support and help during this trip.

250 chairs to the Dominican Republic

Last week, Walkabout Foundation was in the Dominican Republic to distribute wheelchairs to those in need with the help of Fundacion Pide un Deseo (Santo Domingo), Mustard Seed (Puerto Plata), Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (San Pedro de Macoris), Fundacion Mir and Hogar del Nino (both La Romana). Long-term supporters of us may remember that this entire trip came about when Laura Porcella Mayol, of Santo Domingo, raised funds to hold a wheelchair distribution in her country by running the New York Marathon in 2012. Months of training and work came down to last week in the Dominican Republic when Carolina, Maja, Stefanie and Bryony from London, England flew out to build, personalise and fit wheelchairs for those in need. For the first time ever, we also added ROC and Hope Haven paediatric chairs to our offerings, which proved hugely popular as the chairs provide so much more support for children in need.

We are hugely grateful to everyone who helped us along the way with this project. Special thanks obviously go to Laura for her sterling effort and amazing achievement in the NY marathon.

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