By CHIMWEMWE MWALE
MOBILITY is critical to personal development as it enables one to do things without depending on others.
For certain people wheelchairs present an opportunity to make movements and work with ease for their own personal and national development.
This is exactly what Children International Zambia (CIZ) is doing – distributing wheelchairs to vulnerable children with disabilities in various places among them Lusaka’s George township.
While some people take advantage and find walking easy, it is not so easy for people with disabilities. The situation is even worse for the vulnerable people who cannot afford a wheelchair to facilitate mobility.
On face value, a wheelchair does not seem expensive or let alone important to one who is able-bodied. However, the mobility tool is of great importance to people with physical disabilities.
Wheelchairs are also convenient to those taking care of people with disabilities as they save them the trouble of physically lifting someone from one point to the other.
Victoria Phiri of George Township has had to literally carry her son Henry on her back for nearly two decades.
Ms Phiri, whose son was given a wheelchair by CIZ, said the donation would alleviate the challenge she has lived with for 18 years.
“I am now advanced in age as you can see, but I have been carrying my son on my back for all these long years. I am so happy that my suffering has come to an end with the generous donation of this wheelchair.
“I can’t hide my joy and gratitude, this has lightened my burden. CIZ must continue doing this even to other people because it is not easy to handle this burden. I can imagine the suffering of other people because I have been there,” she said as her son was comfortably perched on the wheel chair.
Mark Pumulo, one of the beneficiaries, said owning a wheelchair is a dream-come-true because he has been relying on other people to make movements including going to the toilet.
Pumulo 14, has not had it easy while his contemporaries enjoy the thrills of childhood such as running around the neighbourhood and exploring the world within their reach.
“I am very happy and this is like in a dream…I have only known how to crawl on the ground. Sometimes people have to lift me from one place to another, but this wheelchair will enable me go to school and play with friends.
“I admire friends who are able to go to the market to buy things when they are sent by their parents. Now I can accompany my friends and see some places. I don’t move much, I only get to hear about what is happening without seeing it for myself,” Pumulo said.
CIZ programmes manager, Richard Chalikwela said the organisation is currently operating community centres in Lusaka’s Chibolya, George and Kanyama townships.
He said they provide support to about 17,500 underprivileged children in areas of health, education and family support.
“The organisation, under its Gifts in Kind (GIK) programme receives various products from well-wishers locally and abroad for donation to vulnerable children and individuals as a way of contributing to the improvement of their welfare,” Mr Chalikwela said.
Mr Chalikwela said there are a number of physically challenged children in George township whose families cannot afford wheelchairs.
CIZ embarked on the distribution of wheelchairs to the needy to help ease mobility for disabled children and subsequently put them in a position to earn a living in future.
The organisation has so far under its GIK programme received a total of 550 wheelchairs valued at about K214, 000 for distribution to children and other people who cannot afford them.
Part of the consignment has been donated to 60 children at the CIZ service centre in George.
The organisation has also donated wheel chairs to Levy Mwanawasa Hospital, Chainama Hills Hospital, Kafue District Hospital and University Teaching Hospital.
Other beneficiacries are Livingstone General, Kabwe General and Mumbwa District hospitals as well as Kanyama Disabled Association, and Cheshire Homes.
These particular wheelchairs were designed for rugged terrain and are therefore suitable for the local environment.
Mr Chalikwela said their programme is aimed at supplementing Government efforts in addressing the plight of the poor and vulnerable in society.
CIZ under the Gift in Kind programme has also been donating various products such as medical supplies, text books for supplementary reading (under the book donation programme in conjunction with Ministry of Education), clothing, wheelchairs and shoes among others.
Matero member of Parliament Miles Sampa is happy that CIZ is supplementing government efforts towards addressing the plight of the poor and vulnerable in society.
Mr Sampa, who is Deputy Minister of Commerce, Trade and Industry, said government is glad to learn that a number of public institutions would benefit from the generous donation of wheelchairs.
“It cannot be over-emphasised that most public institution like hospitals, clinics, schools for the handicapped and homes for the aged are in short supply of utilities like wheelchairs. I am informed that the product donations programme was designed to provide vulnerable children and their families with high quality useful items that meet their basic needs,” he said.
He urged institutional beneficiaries, children and their guardians against selling or bartering the wheelchairs for other items.
Mr Sampa further urged recipients to assume full responsibility of the cost of maintenance to ensure efficient performance and safety of the wheelchairs.
“CIZ has provided guidelines for the maintenance of these wheelchairs and the beneficiaries and their guardians should ensure that these guidelines are adhered to prolong the life span of the wheelchairs. I commend CIZ for this good gesture which will improve the mobility of disabled children in our community,” he said.
719 total views, 1 views today