In my blog of January 27th (KADUPEDI - The people I work with), I had written about some of the most amazing people I have met here. Biiara Gatrida was one of them. She was born with polio and both her legs are non-functional. She wears thongs on her hands to use them as her feet and drags herself all over. When I met her, at first it was painful to watch her straining at each step. At the same time, I was struck by how well she could manage herself, as if her disability did not exist. She has boundless perseverance and determination.
Despite her condition, she took courses on weaving mats and baskets. She now makes and sells these hand-made articles to support herself. When I asked her about her biggest wish, she instantly replied that she was desperately yearning to acquire a wheel chair. If she had her own vehicle, she explained, she could herself pick up the raw material for her weaving business. When others help her, she cannot always rely on them. And, she wants to be independent. She also wants to start giving lessons in weaving to others in her situation.
Reading her story on the blog, my dear friends, Margie and Phil Bott, were moved and they immediately fired off an e-mail to me offering to buy a wheel chair for Biiara Gatrida. What a heart-warming gesture! And, they didn’t even inquire about the cost. Very special people they are, Margie and Phil.
In talking to Baluku Peter at the office, he explained that because of road and traffic conditions, here, a tricycle is preferred by those who are not mobile. It has a wheel in the front. Instead of paddles, the rider uses the handles that put the chain in motion to move and steer. After a few inquiries, we connected with a local company that makes these tricycles. Its first product is shown in the picture.
To build on the gesture of Margie and Phil, I have decided to acquire more of these wheel chairs/tricycles. My target is to get a minimum of ten of these vehicles before I leave Uganda around 10 April. Since writing that blog, I have met dozens of people - children, women and men, who, because of polio, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, land mines, accidents or injuries suffered during Uganda’s bloody insurgencies, are not able to move. And, being extremely poor, no one, including family members can help them with mobility.
The challenge is overwhelming and giving these vehicles to ten people will be only like a drop in the ocean. Nevertheless, there are many small ways in which we in rich countries can help out these poorest of the poor, people with disabilities. Giving of these wheel chairs/tricycles will be one such tiny step.
If you are moved, motivated or inspired, I would welcome your participation in this project. It will cost you not more than $200. And, you will certainly make a huge difference in the life of someone less fortunate. They will forever be grateful to you.
For contributing to this effort or any questions, please send me an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org