As I write this, we are just a few thousand units shy of distributing our one-millionth wheelchair. One million… The thought of this leaves me awed and humbled.
It’s not a sense of achievement that moves me, however. It’s the thought that every one of the million represents an individual whose life has been touched and transformed, thanks to the collaboration, support, and prayers of our partners worldwide.
In a dusty Rwandan village, a 70-year-old man named Barigereka was making a modest living as a farmer when an accident cost him the ability to walk. He began to crawl to move about, but the muscles in his legs atrophied over time.
While Barigareka lives with two of his eleven adult children, they spend most of their days working, leaving his wife as his primary caretaker. She would have to carry him wherever he needed to go.
“It was very difficult to move from one place to another,” said Barigareka. “I was like luggage to my wife, who always had to be on hand to carry me if I had to move. For example, whenever it rained while I was outside by myself, I would be stuck in the rain.”
Heartbreaking, isn’t it? Stuck outside in the rain, thinking of himself as being like baggage to his loved ones?
Thankfully, Barigareka connected with Food for the Hungry, our distribution partner in Rwanda, who fitted him with a GEN_2 wheelchair. Barigareka was grateful. “I praise the Lord for getting this support. Now, I can move myself around the house with this wheelchair, and I can even visit my neighbors. Thank you so much.”
The gift of a wheelchair doesn’t just make a difference in the life of an individual, but in that person’s network of support as well, just as it did with Barigareka, his wife, and his family.
This means that the one million wheelchairs you have helped to give away have made a difference in the lives of millions of people around the world.
Come celebrate this milestone with us at the Miracle of Mobility on July 13th at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts in Costa Mesa, California. There, you’ll have an opportunity to meet and hear directly from four wheelchair recipients from Central America, the Caribbean, Africa, and Asia. The evening will offer inspirational stories, delicious food, a thrilling live auction for wheelchairs, and a wonderful time of connection for those with a shared heart to serve people with disabilities in developing nations.
We couldn’t have reached this point without each one of you. Thank you for your part in making a difference in the world, one wheelchair at a time.