Natalina, at age 105, fled her home in South Sudan in 2019. The fear and danger in the area was just too much to bear. Although it’s not really what she wants it to be, she at least feels safe in the Palorinya refugee settlement camp. She puts her longevity into gardening and lentils. We can’t even really begin to fathom what she has experienced in her lifetime. She thanks God and the wonderful people who have made it possible for her to move freely again, visit her relatives in the camp, and to live safely.
Meet Saviour. As a child, he has been mistreated by his father, while the boy’s health worsened by the day. An unknown illness eventually paralysed his legs, leaving him unable to leave the house. With an abusive father and a serious ailment, Saviour had no hopes for the future.
Yet, three years ago Saviour turned out to have a ‘saviour’ of his own – uncle Martine, who decided to care for the boy himself. With his love and caress, Saviour’s recovery has begun. Thanks to the wheelchair he received from Euromonitor, Saviour can now go to school, make friends and enjoy the gift of mobility! His uncle Martine told us: “I’d really like to thank the people who made this possible. It will change Saviour’s life and all our lives. God bless you!”
Eva Maria is a cheeky four-year-old girl who had never had a wheelchair before. She was pushed around in a stroller meant for children much younger than her, which gave her no independence and made her feel insecure around other children her age.
You can’t imagine how happy she was to see her first wheelchair – red is her favorite color! She wanted to help with all the adjustments and couldn’t wait to try it out on her own. As soon as we put her in, she immediately worked out how to use the brakes, took them off and started to push herself – all the way out of the fitting room and out the door of the centre. We had to call her back, as we hadn’t even started adjusting the chair!
Ian is a 10-year-old boy from Santa Fe. He is passionate about learning foreign languages and painting. He loves going to school and making new friends, despite the fact that Ian can’t walk and has been carried around by his parents his whole life.
In March 2019, thanks to the amazing fundraising efforts of our Kilimanjaro Heroes, he received his first ever wheelchair. Now he can be independent and experience all the opportunities that come with a gift of mobility, including following his dreams.
Cardoso is an 8-year-old boy from Buenos Aires with a dream of becoming an engineer. He loves studying and it was no surprise for us to find out that his favourite subject was math. But Cardoso is unable to walk and has been carried around by his parents everywhere he went. Thanks to the amazing funraising efforts of our Kilimanjaro Heroes, in March 2019, he received his first ever wheelchair and is now able to experience all the opportunities that come with a gift of mobility.
Mary is from South Sudan and is over 100 years old – though she’s not sure of her exact age! When she was 30, just after she got married, she was struck by polio – and hasn’t been able to walk since. She has never before had a wheelchair.
Mary has lived not only through the current ongoing war in South Sudan, but also the war for independence from North Sudan – Africa’s longest-running civil war. She lost two of her sons as a result of the conflict, and last year, carried by her remaining children and grandchildren, she fled her country, leaving her whole life behind. She said: “I don’t miss South Sudan, there I saw my friends and sons being killed. And after all I’m just happy to be alive and looking back never helps.”
She is a vibrant, plucky and optimistic woman with a huge smile and a wonderful outlook on life. When we asked her the secret to her happiness, she told us: “Dancing and making love.”
Joel is 24 and living in one of the largest refugee camps in Northern Uganda.
After surviving polio as a child, Joel lost the ability to walk and did not have access to a wheelchair. Even without a mobility aid, Joel was not without hope. He would crawl every day to school and then university, determined to fulfil his dream of becoming a doctor. He only had two years of studying remaining when the war in South Sudan reached his village and he was forced to flee his home, carried on his family’s back.
Though he is unable to complete his education whilst living in a refugee camp, Joel hasn’t given up! Instead he aims to participate in the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Regardless of the difficulties he faces as a disabled man living in a refugee camp, Joel remains optimistic and motivated, training every day in order to bring him one step closer to his goal.
A tenacious, bright, strong-willed young man, Joel does not see limits when it comes to his disability. Walkabout feel privileged to have been able to give him a tricycle that will truly transform his life.
Emmanuel is an adorable 12 year old with an incredible smile. He was born with spina bifida and hydrocephalus, which has meant that he has never been able to walk. When his father found out about Emmanuel’s disability when he was just 6 months old, he abandoned his family, leaving Emmanuel’s single mother alone and unable to afford to look after her son. His uncle, who already had 5 children of his own, took Emmanuel in and raised him as his own child.
Because he’s never before had a wheelchair, Emmanuel is often left at home alone while his cousins go out to school or to play with other children. He was so excited about his new chair that he had spent the past few weeks telling everyone in the village about it – and that he’d finally be able to join his cousins at the local school. A real charmer, he clapped our team for every adjustment we did on his chair – and didn’t stop beaming throughout!
Sierra Leone is a beautiful, green and mountainous country and yet considered one of the poorest in the world. It has suffered through a long, dark history of a 10 year civil war, followed by an Ebola epidemic, leaving the country in a stage of extreme poverty, but things are slowly changing for the better.
In September 2018, Walkabout returned to Sierra Leone to distribute 58 wheelchairs in the capital city of Freetown. After our visit in 2017, which highlighted the huge need for wheelchairs throughout the country, we decided to partner with a local wheelchair workshop to coordinate regular small distributions and meet the ongoing need.
In July 2018, the Walkabout Team visited our Wheelchair Assembly and Daycare Centre in Nanyuki, Kenya, accompanied by four very special, young volunteers: Ines, Massimo, Giovanni and Greg. Driven by their energy and motivation, we distributed 60 life-changing paediatric wheelchairs.
The young team also dedicated 2 days to painting the classroom walls in our Daycare Centre, where we provide rehabilitation for children with mobility disabilities. Our team added some favourite cartoon characters, showing exceptional artistic skill and creating a fun and interactive space. The kids were very curious about the whole process and the biggest challenge was to make sure that none of them snuck in, leaving their hand prints on the walls!
We are so proud and grateful to our special volunteers for their hard work and commitment to our cause.
In June 2018, we headed to Haiti to distribute 163 paediatric wheelchairs. Haiti is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, and has recently experienced massive political and social upheaval, with riots and violence leaving the country in distress. It is home to some of the world’s most underprivileged children.
We visited the capital, Port-au-Prince, and the biggest city in the north, Cap Haitien, where we worked with multiple partners including BSEIPH, Partners in Health, and Hope Health Action, to provide chairs for children in desperate need. Our team encountered a number of very complex cases of disabled kids with severe deformities, as a result of spending their whole lives without a wheelchair. That said, the fortnight was filled with smiles and was a great success, with this quote from one of our local partners particularly sticking in our minds:
“Today’s experience was so amazing for all of us. The parents talked about it the whole way home. They felt welcomed and they saw their kids were valued by all of you. A lot of these chairs are true game changers for the kids.”
Selina is the youngest of 7 children. She was displaced from her home in South Sudan two years ago; her loving parents travelled for three days, her mother carrying her on her back, to get to safety at the Ugandan border. Born with cerebral palsy, Selina has never been able to walk, therefore relying on her older siblings to carry her to school. As she grew, she became too heavy for her sisters to bear her weight on the three hour walk, so they would often leave her on the side of the road and only pick her up on their way back home. Now, thanks to her first ever wheelchair, Selina will be able to return to school, and she’ll be able to play with her siblings rather than being left inside alone. For Selina, her wheelchair means the opportunity to have a childhood – something that every little girl deserves.