In a workshop outside Perth, the walls don’t need to talk. The photos of beaming children pinned around the warehouse speak volumes.
Their faces show the difference that the gift of a wheelchair can make in the lives of boys and girls already dealing with dire poverty.
Take Mercy, a 10-year-old girl from Kenya who had to be carried to school by her mum as she has spina bifida. Once there, Mercy’s classmates picked on her as she was different. And when she became too big for her mum to lift, Mercy stopped going to class altogether.
Then there’s Alice in Uganda, whose malaria became so severe her right side was paralysed. For eight years, she had no means of mobility, unable to attend school or embrace life in her community.
But their lives have been turned around thanks to a partnership between World Vision, Motivation Charitable Trust and Wheelchairs for Kids in Western Australia.
Five days a week, 240 selfless retirees volunteer to assemble wheelchairs. The room buzzes with conversation as the retirees pump out hundreds of wheelchairs a year – from former doctors and bank managers, to tradespeople and physiotherapists.
When assembled, World Vision Australia ships the wheelchairs to its field offices in Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Uganda. Staff on the ground work with Motivation Charitable Trust to train health centre staff and wheelchair technicians, so children can be properly fitted and educated.