Build-A-Chair Project

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In February 2020, Shaban sustained a spinal cord injury from a car accident and was confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life.  Upon discharge from the hospital, Shaban did not have access to a wheelchair of his own. Thankfully, Shedrack Domingo, Physical Therapist and fellow Rotarian was able to provide Shaban with a wheelchair of his own through the Epignosis Physiotherapy Clinic in Moshi, Tanzania.  With a big smile on his face, Shaban said, “I thought I will never go out again, but now the wheelchair is my legs.”
Keystone International Rotary E-Club is proud that Shaban is the first recipient of our Build-A-Chair, Save-A-Life campaign.

Two years ago, Immaculate fell in her bathroom but was not taken to the hospital for her injuries.  As a result, Immaculate was unable to perform the essential functions of daily living and instead relied on her family and neighbors for assistance.  She was unable to attend church or even venture outside for fresh air. She had only a hard stool on which to sit, and this caused her intense back pain.  However, Immaculate’s life was forever changed when Shedrack and his clinic recently fitted her for a custom wheelchair.  Now she is able to be more independent, both inside and outside the house. Most importantly, she is able to attend church services again.  Her favorite part of her new wheelchair: “The cushion is very comfortable.”

Goodwill suffered a spinal cord injury after falling from a tree while picking baobab fruit to sell the seeds in 2002. He was hospitalized for 6 months and upon his discharge., he received a heavy weighted wheelchair which was difficult to maneuver on rough terrain. After 18 years, Goodwill received a custom fitted wheelchair through the Build-A-Chair, Save-A-Life campaign. Goodwill is now able to work and is giving back to others with his volunteer work at Kilimanjaro Association of Spinal Cord Injuries. In addition, he can experience a fuller and a more independent life because the new wheelchair enables him to be more mobile and engage in everyday activities. Goodwill says that he is “currently enjoying the wheelchair since it is not heavy, not tiring and comfortable while sitting on it unlike the other one.”

Due to cancer, Calister lost her leg earlier this year and could not afford to purchase a wheelchair.  Life without a wheelchair has been very difficult for Calister a farmer, because she has been unable to go outdoors and therefore lost her livelihood. Even though, she will not be able to go back to farming, Calister is able to resume all household chores and plans on starting a small business after she completes her rehabilitation program.

Laurencia suffered a spinal cord injury when she fell from a tree 20 years ago. Upon her hospital discharge, she was given a wheelchair which was not appropriately fitted and resulted in painful pressure ulcers. Laurencia depended on her family to assist her with daily activities such as self- care and independence. Now, with a wheelchair she is able to be more independent and no longer feels as though she is a burden to her family.

Paul has a spinal cord injury from a fall when he was repairing a roof. He has been hospitalized for more than 5 years due to medical complications and is finally in rehab. Paul just received a wheelchair from the Keystone International Rotary E-Club Build-A-Chair fundraiser and Shedrack fitted it to his body frame and needs. He also has a special cushion to help alleviate the pain from the pressure ulcers he contracted from his lengthy hospital stay.

John Lameck is an upbeat 22-year-old who lives in Mbokomu, Moshi. He suffered a brain injury in 2015 after getting in a motorcycle accident and was taken to Mawenzi hospital and later referred to KCMC hospital for further management. John currently lives with his parents as he depends on his family for selfcare. When we were assessing John, we saw the wheelchair he was using for mobility and support was very old and damaged since he used it for a long time without repair. Also the wheelchair is too big for him and spare parts are not available in Tanzania. So he had to sit on a chair which doesn’t give him good postural support. We offered him a customized chair to fit his body and condition. During the day of delivery John’s mother was very grateful, and thankful to see that her son will be sitting again without problems and able to go outside the house even to the hospital for therapy sessions. I think his face says it all!

We feel as though we know Amate already from the video that was shared of his homemade wheelchair. Recently Amate was the recipient of a new, custom made wheelchair made locally in Moshi, Tanzania. Amate is a 62-year-old man who lives in Rombo, Tanzania. He was affected with polio in both legs. He was crawling to get from place to place until he made himself a wheelchair out of wood. It was not comfortable or good for his body, yet it was the only way he could get to and from work, about 12 km of travel per day! He is a shoemaker and has been using the homemade device for about ten years. When we provided him a wheelchair, he was so happy he almost shed tears. The day of delivery for his wheelchair was very emotional. Amate was very happy and thankful when he saw his new wheelchair. He said, “Now all my troubles have finished since I will be able to go to any place without any worries and do my work comfortably.”

Meet Gasto! Gasto is a 38 yrs old man who lives in Sanya Juu Moshi. He used to be a driver of a public minibus and got in an accident on 23/2/2018 and sustained a spinal cord injury. He was admitted at KCMC hospital and spent four months in the hospital. In the hospital he was trained to use a wheelchair but was not provided a wheelchair when he was discharged. On the day of delivery we did not take long to train him as he already knew how to use a wheelchair. After receiving the wheelchair Gasto says he is planning to go and meet his fellow drivers and he hopes that they will be able to employ him to help with registering the daily trips of the buses. We are happy that finally the wheelchair will help him to go back to earning a living and being part of his community!

Irene is a 16-year-old girl, who lives at Olgilai Arusha. She was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when she was 3 years old. When we visited her the first time, she had no wheelchair and her parents said that she just sits on a chair outside her house. She can eat with assistance, play and interact with others, but can’t talk. The new wheelchair will help her caregivers and most importantly, will allow Irene to sit more comfortably, be able to go to the playground, and interact with her peers and other people in the community. During the delivery of the wheelchair, the family, their pastor and neighbors were really happy to see it and very thankful. Last Sunday was the first Sunday she went to church after more than 6 years since her mother was no longer able to carry her from their home to church. A happy day for all!

Ezekiel is a 4-year-old boy who lives at Olgilai Arusha. He was born at Mt. Meru hospital and diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. He currently lives with his parents on whom he relies to do everything. Due to his condition, he used to go to Sibusiso in Arusha for rehabilitation services where he received a corner chair (an outdated type of postural support chair where you have to fit the child into the chair). The EPT team conversely fits the chair to the individual by doing an assessment. After receiving our wheelchair, Ezekiel is now able to sit upright to a suitable feeding position, does not need to be carried anymore from place to place and can spend more time outdoors around friends. The family is truly grateful to EPT and Rotary for making this big improvement in their child’s life.

Elihaika is a 7 yrs old girl who lives at Njia Panda, Moshi. She was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at a very young age and has been receiving physiotherapy services ever since. At the moment, Elihaika can eat with assistance, can’t talk but she is able to interact with other kids. She lives with her mother and during the day her grandmother takes care of her while her mother is at work. When we first visited her, she didn’t have a wheelchair for support and mobility and was crawling with her bottom and used to sit on a stool or lay in bed. On the day of the wheelchair delivery, her mother was very happy. She said that now that Elihaika has her own wheelchair, it will help her with support and also give her more chance to do other activities around the house and in the community.

Lucy is a 21 year old young woman who lives in Arusha. She was diagnosed with diastematomyelia, a very rare condition which leads to longitudinal splitting of the spinal cord. She received physiotherapy for a while but in 2015 she started experiencing weakness in her legs and the sessions stopped mainly because of expenses. She switched to home exercises with the help of her relatives. Her condition progressed and she is now unable to walk and has lost strength in her arms. Lucy is a university student at IAA University in Arusha and traveling back and forth has become a challenge. After receiving our wheelchair, Lucy’s quality of life has greatly improved. She says school life is now easier with the wheelchair because and her friends no longer need to carry her. She typically stayed in the classroom all day long until her uncle would come to pick her up. With the wheelchair, Lucy no longer stays in one class all day long and she is able to access most areas of the university. Since the desks at her universities cannot accommodate a wheelchair, we attached a special tray/desk so her wheelchair is also her desk at school!  Mobility is truly transforming lives!

Samuel is a 10 year old boy who lives on Olgilai, Arusha. He was born at Mt. Meru hospital were he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy. He currently does not engage in much activity or movement, mainly spending his days at home. After receiving our wheelchair, his parents said that this will make it easy now for him to go outside of the house.  The wheelchair also provides him with the proper postural support, which is therapy for him. He is now in a better position to learn how to use his hands but also the upright position is more appropriate for feeding which reduces the risk of choking. Choking is a major problem for children with cerebral palsy because it leads to pneumonia, which is a one of the major causes of death. His parents said that now Samuel will be able stay outside by himself since he is well supported, and more importantly, he can play with other kids. His ability to get stronger and spend time outdoors with other children also provides time for his parents to work around the home and be more economically sound.

Mwajuma is a 37 year old woman living in Mbokomu, Moshi. She was in an accident in 2015 which left her with a spinal cord injury. She was admitted to KCMC hospital for 7 months. She had a wheelchair which did not work well as it was not fit for the rough terrain in her environment and there were no spare parts to fix the wheelchair when it needed repairing. This wheelchair was also too heavy and very difficult to propel. After providing her with a custom designed wheelchair specifically for the rough terrain, she was very happy and with a big smile in her face she said, “I am very thankful for this wheelchair since I can go anywhere and continue doing my home activities.” The family was very excited, thankful and happy to see Mwajuma in her new wheelchair, knowing that it will give her the ability to live a different life and actively participate in her community.

Mohamed is a 65 year old man who lives in Majengo, Moshi. He was diagnosed with polio at the age of 7. He underwent surgery in his left leg in 1988 at KCMC hospital. After surgery, he received a wheelchair and continued doing his activities one of which was teaching Electronics in Moshi. Unfortunately, Mohamed lost his job in 2016. Currently, he relies on help from friends and sometimes he does day work. After receiving the locally made wheelchair, Mohamed said, “I am very thankful for the wheelchair since it will help me a lot in going outside to find income even in farther places as this wheelchair is not as heavy as the previous, easier to propel and more comfortable”. His previous wheelchair was broken beyond repair and difficult to use.  Te new wheelchair will assist Mohamed in his job search and help him to continue to be a productive member of his community.

Samuel is a 92 year old man who lives in Sanya Juu, Moshi. About one year ago, Samuel started to become frail and now he is unable to walk and has been spending most of his time in bed. He lives with his wife and children who take care of him.  The wheelchair he received from us will help him to get out of the house. When he was fitted to his wheelchair and came outside, he clapped his hands and said, “Finally I am out of prison”. We were all clapping and laughing along with him. His family is so happy to see how the wheelchair is benefiting him. Please know that your support of our work in Tanzania is changing lives!

Perpetua is an 89 year old woman who lives in Sanya Juu, Moshi. She suffered a pelvic fracture due to a fall and was treated at KCMC hospital. After she was discharged, she was unable to walk because of a combination of the injury and her advanced age. We found her in bed where she has been for more than five years. Due to her condition, her relatives, mainly her daughter, assist her with her daily needs. We provided her a wheelchair and that was her first time she had been out of the house in more than five years. She said that she cannot wait to go to church again because the wheelchair will help her to do so. No matter the age, lives can be transformed and people’s circumstances can change. The Power of Mobility!