To see a child smile like this, especially a child who doesn’t speak, delights and motivates us. It also provides proof of acceptance of the custom-made stroller we provided for him. These strollers are for children living in rural areas; children who can not sit in a conventional chair. BUT they know what makes them feel good – about that there is no doubt.
His name is Luis Fabian. He has just received this custom-fitted stroller in which he feels comfortable and safe. We have been providing one form or other of custom seating for children with disability since 2009. Our partners in this project are ASODISPIE, who do the design and construction, and the Rotary Clubs Ronda del Sinú from Montería and Cerrejon in Albania, La Guajira.
We encountered Tatiana while visiting Luis Fabian. There she sat, on the sandy ground, eating her breakfast. A closer look revealed bilateral club foot, a condition that requires a surgery that should have been done ages ago. Tatiana presents a new challenge to us – to construct a wheelchair fit for a rural setting but along conventional lines; a chair low enough for her to get in and out of independently, and narrow enough for her to push herself.
Our travels to isolated “rancherias” in La Guajira are arduous, especially during rainy season. Our visit to Nely required a truck with double traction (more traction than a 4 by 4). ASODISPIE constructed a new product in form of a walker with a seat to encourage Nely to strengthen her ability to walk.
Her younger sister (3 years old) has multiple disabilities in the form of visual and hearing limitation, cognitive and physical disability. Nely and Meleidas have not received therapy and are left to their own devices.
We put Meleidas on a cloth spread on the ground to see what she would do and the picture shows the result. The pity of it is, that she spends most of the day in the hammock, which is safe, but doesn’t offer her opportunity for development. Her family is very poor, so the Rotary Club will purchase a straw mat for her. We hope that the family will follow through and put her on this mat for periods during the day.
We keep working on the design of the stroller to improve the fit as well as the stability. Back in 2005, CAPD made the decision to no longer send used wheelchairs to Colombia, but rather to support local industry, especially that of people with disability. As mentioned, the constructor is ASODISPIE, an association of people with disabilities. These projects not only provide them with an income source, but also build capacity toward a self-sustaining business.
We are also following-up on strollers provided in previous years, which gives us feedback on the durability of our product. As a result we are replacing cushions as well as stroller parts.
These strollers bring improved self-image to children, and freedom to families who can now take their child to visit relatives and friends. Thanks to the Rotary Clubs of Ronda del Sinú and of Cerrejon (through their Foundation, Manos Solidarias), for their collaborative effort in helping these children.