Our mission: to provide the life-transforming gift of mobility in developing nations, as motivated by Jesus Christ.
The Free Wheelchair Mission Story
In 1979, while on vacation in Morocco, a young engineer and inventor named Don Schoendorfer witnessed the agonizing plight of a woman struggling to drag herself across a busy thoroughfare.
Unable to forget the scene, Don would eventually leave a successful career in the biomedical field and design a durable, comfortable, and cost-effective wheelchair. His unique design became the cornerstone of Free Wheelchair Mission, the nonprofit organization he founded in 2001.
Free Wheelchair Mission is a humanitarian, faith-based nonprofit that designs and manufactures cost-efficient, durable wheelchairs for individuals living with disabilities in developing countries.
In collaboration with a network of like-minded partners, Free Wheelchair Mission has distributed 1.3 million wheelchairs to individuals in need in 94 countries around the world, providing renewed dignity, independence, and hope through the gift of mobility, at no cost to the recipient.
The Need & Solution
The Need is Great
The World Health Organization estimates that 75 million people in the world are in need of a wheelchair.
Without mobility, people living with disabilities are often left confined to their beds or homes, hindering their ability to pursue an education, make a living, or participate in community on their own.
The Solution is Simple
We believe in a world where everyone who needs a wheelchair has one.
Our wheelchairs are simple, cost-effective, and highly functional. They are designed to be resilient enough to withstand regular use in rugged terrain commonly found in developing countries.
Because of our unique wheelchair designs and our distribution network, we are able to maximize our impact and provide wheelchairs to individuals living in some of the most remote regions on the planet.
For under $100, a wheelchair can be manufactured and shipped to a person in need.
That is less than the cost of a latte a day for a month, a tank of gas for your SUV, a new pair of name-brand shoes, or dinner and a movie for two.
Small sacrifices we can make are life-transforming for those living with disabilities in the developing world.
When you give someone a wheelchair, you give someone the chance to breathe fresh air, visit friends and neighbors—or even go to school or get a job. The transforming gift of mobility changes everything. Mobility means independence, the ability to participate in society and earn a living. It means renewed dignity, leaving behind the days of being on the ground.
Since 2001, more than 1.3 million lives across 94 countries have been transformed by the gift of mobility from Free Wheelchair Mission.
Will you get involved today and help transform a life forever?
Peter, 30, is the youngest of six children. In 2009, he was working as a mason at a university in Kenya when he fell from the third floor of a building, sustaining a spinal cord injury that caused paralysis of his lower body. Peter spent three months in the hospital before going home to Gakoye Village. He […]Read More
As events continue to unfold in Ukraine, would you continue to keep the people and the situation in prayer? In this story that aired on NBC News on March 9, 2022, a Ukrainian family is interviewed while recovering in a Kyiv hospital. The father is using one of our GEN_2 wheelchairs, which one of our former distribution partners provided to […]Read More
Would you keep in prayer all who are affected by the developments unfolding in Ukraine, including our former distribution partners? Over the years, Free Wheelchair Mission has distributed nearly 16,000 wheelchairs in Ukraine through organizations including Mission Eurasia, which was still giving away wheelchairs from our last shipment to them but has had to pause […]Read More
Kwezi, 55, is a husband and father who lives in western Uganda. When he was a young child, he contracted polio, affecting his ability to walk on two feet. He has been walking on all fours ever since. Kwezi makes a modest living by repairing shoes and could not afford to buy a wheelchair on such a […]Read More
Quynh is a 19-year-old who lives in Vietnam. She has never been able to stand or walk because of a congenital condition. Her father cannot walk, either. Without mobility, Quynh would often crawl on the ground to get from place to place. Her family tried their best to provide her with an education, but without […]Read More
Meet Miguel, a 22-year-old who lives with his sister and mother in Nicaragua. He was named in honor of his father, who supported the family as a farmer. One afternoon, his mother Juana found little Miguel convulsing on the ground, suffering from a high fever. Overwhelmed with desperation, Juana picked him up and started walking for […]Read More
Dorcas, 23, is the oldest of nine children, born to a farmer’s family in rural Bomet County, Kenya. She has lived with a disability for most of her life. Without mobility, Dorcas would need help from her mother and younger brothers to get from place to place. Throughout the years, various people and organizations would promise to […]Read More
A Story from Peru Zaid is a six-year-old boy who lives with his parents and three brothers in provincial Peru. When Zaid was 10 months old, he suffered a stomach infection that spurred an illness that doctors could not diagnose. Meanwhile, this motor disease progressively weakened his muscles and Zaid eventually lost mobility. Every morning, Zaid’s two older brothers would help […]Read More
What a difficult week this has been for so many around the world. Our prayers are with the people of Afghanistan, a country we once served, delivering more than 4,400 wheelchairs to people living with disabilities there. We also ask for continued prayers for the people of Haiti, which was hit by a devastating magnitude […]Read More
Rucogoza is a 45-year-old man who lives in rural Rwanda. About 13 years ago, he began to develop paralysis in both legs, and despite the treatment he received, his legs continued to weaken. He can no longer stand or walk and uses his hands to help move from place to place. Rucogoza lives alone. His […]Read More
Over the past several days, the situation in Haiti has continued to deteriorate. The country was still reeling in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake that struck in 2010 when COVID-19 hit, with almost 20,000 confirmed cases and hundreds of deaths. Then, the country was further rocked by violence and political instability, culminating in Wednesday’s […]Read More
Ericka (39) was born in Nicaragua and now lives in neighboring Costa Rica. When she was just 20 years old, Ericka was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, a progressive autoimmune disease. She has gradually lost mobility to chronic pain ever since but has never let this condition defeat her. Ericka went on to get married and […]Read More
We invite you to join us in prayer for the people of India as they endure a devastating surge in COVID-19 infections, with more than 20 million cases as of this writing. India holds a special place in our hearts at Free Wheelchair Mission. It is where we gave away our first four wheelchairs over […]Read More
A Story from Uganda Peter and his twin brother were born 81 years ago, but only Peter survived, and he had paralysis of the legs. Without any mobility aids, Peter could not easily get to school, so his parents taught him at home and gave him a fourth-grade education. His parents worked hard to save […]Read More
Mario (66) has long been familiar with the impact that disabilities can have. After serving faithfully as the pastor of a small church in Nicaragua for over 40 years, he was forced to retire when complications from diabetes led to infections and the amputation of both legs. He has also been losing his eyesight. Now, his wife Selina makes […]Read More
Diomede (59) has hardly ever been outdoors for the better part of 10 years. A terrible road accident left him with paralysis from the waist down. He couldn’t move without assistance, and at 154 pounds, he was too heavy for anyone to carry. Unable to cope with their new reality, Diomede’s wife abandoned him and […]Read More
Samuel (14, India) was a healthy child and lived like any other boy his age, playing with his friends and playing hide-and-seek in their dense, urban neighborhood. But that all changed when he was in third grade.He was out with his mother, father, and sister when he started feeling very weak. His feet began twisting […]Read More
Ivan is a 13-year-old boy who lives in Palca, a small village nestled in the hills of Honduras that can only be reached by rocky dirt roads. He lives with his parents and two sisters in a modest home made of adobe walls and cement floors. When he was four, Ivan was diagnosed with osteogenesis […]Read More
Her parents had the perfect name for her. When they first laid eyes on their beautiful baby girl, they named her Gift. Gift was born with no hands or feet. When she was still a toddler, her parents took her and fled from their home in South Sudan due to violent conflict and deteriorating conditions. […]Read More
This year, we have so much to be thankful for at Free Wheelchair Mission, especially in light of the challenges we have all faced during this pandemic. With your prayers and support, we have been able to continue serving individuals in need of mobility in developing countries. One of them is Juliana, a 43-year-old in […]Read More
Darcy (10) is the third of eight children. They live with their loving parents in the hills of rural Burundi. When Darcy was four years old, his legs were amputated after tumors were found on them. He has never had any mobility aids, so his mother would carry him to school each day. He loves […]Read More
Alfonso (28) and his father, Sergio (48), climbed into a small sailboat on the coast of Nicaragua one day, like they did every day, setting out into the waters of the Atlantic. They are members of the Miskito indigenous community, a significant percentage of whom make a living as lobster divers. It’s dangerous work, requiring […]Read More
High up in the Andes Mountains of Peru, in a small village at the end of a winding dirt road, lives a 33-year-old woman named Roció. Roció contracted polio at the age of six. She walks with great difficulty, using a stick for support, and has never had a wheelchair before. This tenacious young mother […]Read More
“Life was hectic,” expressed Odetta, a 38-year-old mother in Rwanda. Not only does she have her hands full raising four kids, ages three to 12, she also serves as the full-time caregiver to her 14-year-old brother, Ildephonse. Ildephonse needs help walking, and with Odetta and her husband always being occupied with providing for the family’s […]Read More
A Story from Vietnam Thi grew up in the remote hills of Quang Ngai, a coastal province in Vietnam where leafy green mountains ease into plains that meet the sea. Life was beautiful, in her own words. She’d play outdoors with her friends and neighbors, and travel the countryside with her parents and siblings. But […]Read More
A Friday Story from Zimbabwe Mrs. Gonamombe lives a hardscrabble existence with her four sons in Rutenga village, Zimbabwe. The three oldest—Namo (25), Rapson (22), and Richard (20)—were born with Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease, a hereditary condition that has damaged the nerves in their arms and legs. Unable to walk, they were forced to crawl on the […]Read More
A Story From El Salvador Brayan (12, El Salvador) was a healthy, precocious child who liked to run, jump, and climb, up until the age of two. That’s when he started feeling pain in his joints. His muscles grew weak and he felt discomfort in his spine. Brayan would eventually lose mobility to inflammatory myopathies, […]Read More
One Wheelchair Recipient’s Response to the Pandemic With #GivingTuesdayNow just around the corner on May 5th, I thought I’d share an encouraging update from a wheelchair recipient who is now giving back to the community in response to COVID-19. Linh was born 40 years ago in Ai Nghia, a village near the eastern coast of […]Read More
A Report from Miss Wheelchair Kenya 2019 We continue to keep you in our prayers, and we invite you to join us in prayer for all of the Free Wheelchair Mission family, especially the communities we serve. While we are thankful for some improving news on COVID-19 here in America, it continues to be a […]Read More
As I reflect on Good Friday today, when many of us are staying home due to COVID-19, I think of a woman in South Africa named Rose. A widow with no children, Rose has been living at a home for the elderly in Soweto Township, South Africa, for the past two years. On March 14th, she celebrated […]Read More
Ming, a 59-year-old grandfather, had always been a hard worker. He made a living as a farmer, working a small plot of land in a village nestled in the rocky hills of the Chinese countryside. But five years ago, an accident left Ming unable to walk, forcing him to stop working. Ming would be confined […]Read More
Last fall, a team from Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church (MDPC) in Houston, Texas, embarked on a vision trip to Peru, where they connected with our local distribution partner, Camino de Vida Church (CDV). As they trekked up a steep hillside one morning, a member of CDV explained that the higher you go, the greater the […]Read More
Fourteen years ago, in Nicaragua, a young woman named Rosa cradled her crying newborn—her first child—and instantly fell in love. She named the baby girl Esmilda. Rosa had given birth at home, in one of the most difficult places to access in Nicaragua: an indigenous village, located a full day’s journey from the capital city, […]Read More
Blessing Nyambuke is a beautiful six-year-old girl from Machakos town, in Kenya. She was born with a condition known as amelia, with no arms and shortened legs. Life has been challenging for Blessing and her parents, but she hasn’t let disability hold her back. She learned how to use her feet the way her friends […]Read More
Juan Manuel was only a year old when the fire broke out. He was healthy. He was active. He was his parents’ pride and joy — their lively firstborn son. They were snuggled up in bed one night, fast asleep, when a spark ignited the dry wooden slats of their urban home in El Salvador. […]Read More
“I play tennis.” That’s the first thing Ruth, a 32-year-old woman in Chennai, India, said to us. “I’m a champion. And so is my husband.” Both Ruth and her husband live with disabilities. As a baby, Ruth contracted polio, which affected her right leg. For years, she could walk with some assistance, but this became […]Read More
Isabella was visibly nervous. She hadn’t been out of her house in years. She was 98 years old. A great-grandmother. And she lives with dementia. Her own safety was one reason that her family kept her at home in Machachi, a town surrounded by volcanoes 20 miles south of Quito, Ecuador. Another reason is that […]Read More
Nakiwe searched everywhere for her favorite shirt. It was pink—her favorite color. She usually knew where to find it, in a basket of folded clothes that she kept near her bed, but it wasn’t there. Then, she remembered that she had washed it a few days earlier and had her mother hang it out to […]Read More
Darwin was born in a rustic farmhouse nestled in the hills of Guatemala, about an eight-hour drive from the capital city. When his parents embraced their beloved newborn baby — the youngest of their five children — their elation turned to panic when they noticed a growth on Darwin’s spine. They took little Darwin to […]Read More
Hlobisle has always loved to sew, ever since she was a little girl in the rolling hills of Eswatini. Her dream has been to make sewing her livelihood, but she didn’t have the resources to start her own small business. Without an income, Hlobisle could not afford a wheelchair, either, and without mobility, she would […]Read More
At the Miracle of Mobility gala in 2017, one of our special guests was a young woman from Vietnam named Hien, who was then a 19-year-old graphic design student. Hien is now 21 and works at a luxury beach resort in Da Nang, Vietnam. “Since I took part in Miracle of Mobility, I graduated from […]Read More
Meet Frank, a 10-year-old boy who lives in the Huancavelica province of Peru. He was born with dystrophy, affecting his legs, and had to use a wooden stick to help him walk. He couldn’t travel far, though, and had to be carried longer distances. Frank loves to read and attends a neighborhood school with his […]Read More
Phaninder is a happily-married father of a three-year-old boy. He’s an engineering graduate who had been operating his own fabrication plant in eastern India. However, when a spinal cord injury left him paralyzed two years ago, he could no longer run the plant and was forced to shut it down. Left without an income, Phaninder […]Read More
Irine, a 7-year-old girl who was born with spina bifida, recently received her first wheelchair from Tenwek Hospital, one of our distribution partners in Kenya. “She asked me to send you all a big thank-you,” relayed Solomon (below; left), the physical therapist overseeing the wheelchair program at Tenwek. “She is now ready to go to […]Read More
A common sight in the highlands of Guatemala is mothers in traditional dress, carrying their infants or small toddlers on their backs, tied securely in colorful cloth. This is how Gerber and his mother arrived at a wheelchair distribution earlier this spring. However, Gerber is no toddler—he is 17 years old. A quadriplegic, Gerber traveled […]Read More
Meet Ngon, a 65-year-old husband and father in Thanh Hoa, Vietnam who hasn’t let life slow him down. He operates a carpentry shop out of his home, crafting doors and other pieces for construction projects that are sprouting up throughout the rural province. He also farms a small plot of land, all to provide for […]Read More
Sifiso, a 34-year-old man in rural Eswatini, never saw it coming. In December of 2017, he said goodbye to his two little girls, ages 6 and 8, climbed into a vehicle with his brother, and started heading for the city. The two siblings were debating whose favorite soccer team was better when the other car […]Read More
Seventeen years ago, in a small town in the Peruvian Andes, the Mora family welcomed their first child—a baby boy whom they named Johan, which means “God is gracious.” They were a happy young family, and all seemed well for a while. However, Johan’s parents noticed that he wasn’t developing the way they’d expected. They […]Read More
Yan, 66, and her husband raised two children in a village in China that has based its economy on agriculture for decades. Over time comes change: Urban sprawl has been creeping into fields, consuming them beneath new buildings and roads. Yan’s children have grown up and moved away. And Yan’s life took a severe turn […]Read More