Sharing the Gift of Mobility. . .
Because No One Should Have to Crawl
In some parts of the world, when you cannot walk, you must wait for someone to carry you. Or you crawl to get around. For countless of the planet’s poor, disease, malnutrition, land mines and untreated health conditions lead to deformity and restricted movement. In 2001, engineer Don Schoendorfer founded Free Wheelchair Mission, a faith-based organization that builds and gives away durable, inexpensive wheelchairs — at no cost — to the world’s less fortunate.
Right at Home and the Free Wheelchair Mission are teaming up to provide a life-changing gift and in the process they are transforming the lives of entire families and communities. A gift of $80 will manufacture, ship, assemble and deliver one wheelchair to someone in need across the globe. Each wheelchair is easy to maintain and designed to withstand rugged terrain in inaccessible communities.
Throughout nearly 95 countries to date, including Albania, Cambodia, Ukraine and everywhere in between, Free Wheelchair Mission has transformed the lives of those who cannot walk. Partnering with Right at Home, Free Wheelchair Mission is on target to accelerate the distribution of nearly 80,000 wheelchairs every year.
“It’s quite an experience when you actually show up at somebody’s home, especially when they are not expecting you, because they have been waiting for a wheelchair for maybe 25 years,” Schoendorfer explains. “You put them in the wheelchair and instantly they gain this dignity from sitting up straight. We need your help to get your brothers and sisters up off the ground. It’s that simple.”
Theresa – Mexico
Arthritis seized more than Theresa’s joints. The rheumatoid inflammation damaged her eyesight. At age 70 and living with her daughter and four grandchildren in Guanajuato, Mexico, Theresa, bravely shuffled with a walker, feeling discouraged yet grateful when she could scoot a few steps.
As soon as Theresa was fitted with her aqua wheelchair, she giddily rolled about the room, but then suddenly stopped. Theresa’s eyes pooled with tears and she dropped her head to her lap in unspeakable joy.
Linh — Vietnam
Linh’s legs have never worked correctly. A family member carried young Linh until he grew too big. Crawling became his mode of getting around in Saigon, Vietnam. After Linh’s father died in 2014, Linh wanted more independence and moved out of the family home on his own.
To support himself, every day Linh dragged himself on the ground through crowds to sell goods at the marketplace. When a team from Free Wheelchair Mission gave Linh his very own GEN_1 wheelchair, he was thrilled! The 24-year-old no longer pulls himself to the marketplace, now his wheelchair transports him. With his new mobility and uplifted self-confidence, Linh is growing his small business and selling more items than ever before.
Ma Hao — China
Ma Hao suffered a lack of oxygen at birth and his legs never developed strength. For 13 years, Ma Hao’s mother carried her son everywhere in their rural Chinese town. To the bathroom. To the market. She hoisted Ma Hao on her shoulders and trudged him the more than a half-mile to school.
Imagine the excitement the fifth grader felt when his family learned Ma Hao would receive the gift of mobility. Volunteers arrived at their home to deliver and assemble a brand-new wheelchair. The assembly process alone moved Ma Hao’s heart as he experienced the team’s love, care and kindness. “They were so nice, doing this for me,” Ma Hao later said. “. . . with this wheelchair, I can be independent and my mother can relax from now on.”
Within one week, Ma Hao was smoothly wheeling himself around. Now, when the teen wheels to school, his mother walks alongside Ma Hao instead of carrying him on her shoulders. Ma Hao’s mobility gives him more than much-appreciated freedom, the wheelchair continues to bless his family as well.
Fidel’s charming wit and quick smile hide his relentless pain. Rheumatoid arthritis from the knees down force him to hobble only a few feet, if he makes it that far. For the 91-year-old rancher with the sun-weathered face, his lack of mobility is only part of his daily angst. His beloved wife is also disabled.
When a team with Free Wheelchair Mission and Right at Home visited central Mexico and met Fidel, his life changed forever. His bride’s life too. The aging sweethearts now each have a wheelchair. Finally mobile again, they can better care for themselves and wheel around their garden together, which makes gregarious Fidel smile all the more.