For persons unable to walk, mobility is the key to independence, education, and self-reliance. A person given the gift of mobility is freer to travel, work, and go to school. Additionally, their caretakers are also more free to spend time on other productive activities.
Of the estimated 100 million disabled people worldwide, only one percent own or have access to a wheelchair. Many have lost the use of one or both legs due to war, birth defects, or disease. In most developing countries, there are few social supports to help the disabled. They depend principally upon family members for support and care.
The following short video highlights a little-known program of Latter-day Saint Charities — the humanitarian services arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — to supply wheelchairs to disabled persons in many parts of the world. Partnering with reliable local organizations, LDS Charities has distributed an astonishing 300,000 wheelchairs in 112 countries since the program’s inception in 2001.
The film depicts a shipment of 1000 wheelchairs being presented by Church officials to new owners in war-torn regions of the former Yugoslavia. Additional distribution is shown in one or more of the nations of Africa.
The opening scenes are arresting, showing as they do the procession of crippled, legless, halt and maimed persons — hobbling, crawling, and scooting forward to be helped into their new wheelchairs. But the closing scenes — those of a young man smiling with excitement, children shyly basking in the applause of caregivers and friends, a modest young woman beaming with joy and gratitude, a gray-haired older gentleman shouting with exuberance as he sits in his new chair — these are the sights that will truly bring tears to your eyes.
Learn more about LDS Charities and its programs of compassion and uplift at LDS.org and at the LDS Humanitarian Services web site. LDS Charities participation in a 2009 humanitarian mission with the U.S. Navy is described in this YouTube video, and several articles documenting its efforts in the wake of the Haiti earthquake can be reviewed here.