Changing Lives With Wheelchairs

Changing Lives With Wheelchairs

Humanitarians brings 300 new wheelchairs to Kenya. Changing lives with wheelchairs is what the Humanitarian arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does well. A week-long training session beginning May 21, 2018 in Marung’a County with 24 local physical and occupational therapists being trained and WHO (World Health Organization) certified in wheel chair fitting at a conference room at Nokras Riverine Hotel just outside of Sagana.

News Release

Humanitarians brings 300 new wheelchairs to Kenya. Changing lives with wheelchairs is what the Humanitarian arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does well. A week-long training session beginning May 21, 2018 in Marung’a County with 24 local physical and occupational therapists being trained and WHO (World Health Organization) certified in wheelchair fitting at a conference room at Nokras Riverine Hotel just outside of Sagana.

The Church provides tens of thousands of wheelchairs each year around the world. With the help of dedicated people, such as Mary Nyambura Karioki of Murang’a Community Services for Disabled, and Ruben Kangethe, Marung’a County Physical Therapist, who helps the Church coordinate the training sessions and assembling of the wheelchairs. Another resource for the Church’s wheelchair programs is Motivation Africa, an NGO based in UK.

Volunteer member therapists and technicians of the Church from the United States, work alongside the local clinicians as they train and instruct them to prescribe and fit recipients for a wheelchair. Local technicians are also trained to assemble the chairs.

The clinicians used their new skills to assess, prescribe, fit and guide recipients into the best wheelchair fit for them. The final test was to work with 15 recipients and evaluate them in three shifts over two days. Though there are 285 wheelchairs remaining in boxes, their availability will be prescribed through four hospitals in Kenya.

The chairs will go into storage at the Kenyatta National Hospital, an institution that partners with the Church, as does the AIC Cure Hospital in Kijabe, the Murang’a County Hospital, and the Maragwa Hospital. Those interested in receiving a wheelchair are to make an appointment at Kenyatta Hospital in Nairobi to be assessed at any of those four facilities mentioned above.

Many of the therapists admitted they had never been seated in a wheel chair and were asked to do so. Assessing, prescribing, fitting and monitoring recipient’s needs for the correct chair is the greatest concern. The Church has designed and manufactured several different models that can be adjusted to help improve the handicapped condition—one chair does not fit all.

When asked, is any chair better than none? Boyd Wagstaff, a volunteer trainer answered, “Absolutely not! The wrong wheelchair is dangerous--it might not allow the recipient to function correctly, causing more damage to his body.”

The wheelchairs provided by LDS Charities, are more adjustable as well as rugged. They are not a standard wheelchair and are suited for different body sizes, shapes and environmental terrains. Some are fitted with bike pedals in the front to help with faster movement.

“The remaining chairs are available to all people of any religion or ethnic group,” said Marcy Dow, who has participated with her husband, John Dow, in the wheelchair projects for more than nine years in many countries around the globe.

The Closing Ceremonies began at 3:00 pm on the last day of training. The purpose of the ceremony was to give WHO (World Health Organization) Certificates to those clinicians who participated and learned the skills to fit wheelchairs, also certificates to technicians who learned how to properly assemble and adjust the wheelchairs. Mary Karioki received a plaque for appreciation for her collaboration and efforts with the training program.

On May 28-29, 2018, the group of trainers from Salt Lake City will be at Sisters of Mercy Villa Maria in Nairobi for a two-day L.D.S. Product Familiarization Session explaining three new wheelchair styles. This will be an introduction for those who work with patients and do wheelchair assembling.

This training session was not only a benefit to the health facilities and those who were trained and certified, but the many recipients who now gain increased mobility with new wheelchairs. Their faces express “tunafurahia sana!”

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