Nigeria Receives 500 Wheelchairs From LDS Charities

LDS Charities reach 5,000 Nigerian beneficiaries

News Release
 

LDS Charities, the Humanitarian arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has provided 500 wheelchairs, which will be delivered to persons with disabilities in Nigeria through its partner, Mobility Aid and Appliances Research and Documents Centre (MAARDEC) at no cost.

The handover ceremony capped the successful completion of a week-long training program, that took place in the Church's Cultural Hall at Opebi Lagos and organized to train eleven MAARDEC-selected health care professionals how to properly prescribe, assemble and customize wheelchairs appropriately for beneficiaries in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines on provision of wheelchairs.

Ronald K. Honey, a clinician-missionary wheelchair seating and positioning specialist, trained the professionals on how to evaluate, fit, adjust and maintain the wheelchairs for the best use of the beneficiaries. He explained that the wheelchairs have many adjustments needed to prevent the users from sustaining injuries due to falling out of the machine. He further explained that LDS Charities is always ready to give Nigerians with impaired mobility hope and improved life.

Elder and Sister Van Christensen, the program specialists of the initiative were happy to work together on this initiative and also with Ronald K. Honey and Kurt Walker as trainers during the 5-day training and the wheelchair handover. Sister Marie Christensen explains why the scheme is of utmost importance; “The important thing is to empower people to become self-reliant. We are equal, but they do not feel we are because they can not do what others can do”.

“But with the wheelchairs, they feel they should be treated equally because they can do what others can do.” Sister Christensen concluded.

“My wife’s legs were amputated due to diabetes a few years back, it has been a trying period for me because I had to drive her everywhere coupled with the fact that I had to drive my four children to school”, said Mr Lateef Sarumi who accompanied his wife Oluwakemi sarumi (a singer and an entertainer) to the wheelchair handover ceremony. “I am relieved and excited that she now has a customized wheelchair”.

Kurt Walker, a technician trainer, listed other causes of mobility impairment; “amputation, polio, diabetes, cerebral palsy, and spinal cord injury can cause loss of the leg”. He also clarified that, LDS Charities does not go around distributing wheelchairs, rather; “wheelchairs are provided according to the specific needs of the beneficiaries,”

In 2006, the Church partnered with the MAARDEC to ease the roll-out of the program, in Nigeria. Mr. Cosmas Ikechukwu Okoli, the Chief Executive Officer of MAARDEC said; “We are very excited about it as this is the first of its kind in Nigeria. The church has promised that they will always be there for us in terms of provision of these wheelchairs, however, we are doing our best to see that this initiative is sustainable”  

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), an “estimated one percent of the world's population representing 65 million people, need a wheelchair. The global wheelchair initiative spearheaded by the Church is currently rolled-out as part of the Church’s efforts to improve mobility, health, educational and economic opportunities for people with physical disabilities.

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