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How Our All Terrain Wheelchairs Are Empowering People With Disabilities

Robert was an accomplished welder and farmer in Gramothe, Haiti before 2010. He is married and has two sons, one of which hopes to become an...

Robert was an accomplished welder and farmer in Gramothe, Haiti before 2010. He is married and has two sons, one of whom hopes to become an engineer. However, Robert has a progressive condition that is causing him to lose the ability to use his legs. He has been immobile for quite some time and the doctor has not given him a prognosis.

In Haiti, the streets are uneven and bumpy, rendering “hospital-style” wheelchairs virtually useless. In the mountains, where Robert and the majority of Haitians live, dirt roads and rocky footpaths are common. However, The Red Thread Promise makes it possible for people like Robert to become more independent by providing them with all-terrain wheelchairs through our International Mobility Program (IMP). In fact, Robert is hopeful to return to welding since receiving his new wheelchair.

During our first trip to Haiti in 2009, we had no intention of starting IMP. But when we observed that hospital-style wheelchairs were not meeting the needs of those using them, it compelled us to seek out the best all-terrain wheelchairs available. We worked directly with a manufacturer to keep costs low while providing quality chairs specifically designed and built to traverse rugged terrain. Our chairs feature strong frames, flexible suspension, and wide front wheels especially for sand, rock and uneven surfaces.

In June 2011, we delivered a full shipment of 100 wheelchairs to St. Vincent’s Center for Handicapped Children in Port-au-Prince. Our team worked directly with the center to identify candidates for distribution, assemble the chairs, and provide maintenance training to our Haitian partners. Now, The Red Thread Promise is working to bring mobility to 100 additional people in and around Port-au-Prince as well as local businesses and hotels that are not accessible.

These gifts of mobility give people with disabilities (PWDs) more opportunities to fully engage in life. They promote better self and family care, and help recipients actively participate in educational and economic opportunities. Children can attend school with their peers, acquiring life skills that help them become independent adults. Teens and adults are better able to engage in meaningful work, providing financial stability to their families. Independence increases each individual’s sense of self-worth and self-respect in their home countries.

Yolen, a new recipient of one of our all terrain wheelchairs

Ultimately, our goal is to bring communities together, where everyone is viewed with dignity. We not only provide wheelchairs for individuals in need, but also model respectful and inclusive behavior toward people with disabilities. The Red Thread Promise actively discusses discrimination issues with Haitian businesses, governmental entities and other NGOs working in Haiti, encouraging the implementation of anti-discrimination strategies in Haitian society since 2009. Fortunately, on March 13, 2012, the Haitian Senate passed the Law on the Integration of Disabled Persons, which was the first of its kind in the country.

In July 2013, we will be bringing 50 PWDs to a beach resort in Montrious, Haiti for summer camp. Our team has been working with hotel management to build wheelchair ramps and widen doorways for wheelchair access into all areas of the resort. Management has even requested several of our all-terrain wheelchairs for use with future guests.

We will continue to work in Haiti and other countries providing mobility for years to come. However, in order to offer a long-term impact, especially to our current program in Haiti, we’d love your support. Help us empower PWDs by giving them the opportunity to be more mobile and independent. Consider donating to our GlobalGiving campaign or directly through our site.

You can support this project on GlobalGiving. For a limited time, our friends at Global Giving are offering $25 gift codes to new GOOD Magazine subscribers which you can use to fund these projects. Subscribe at and use the code GGIVING25.

This project was featured in Push for Good —our guide to crowdfunding creative progress.

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