Imagine having only one leg, an injury or medical condition affecting your ability to walk, and no way to get around, no crutches or walker. Imagine only being able to walk a few feet, and the well where you get your water is a mile away. Due to the devastating earthquake in 2010, many Haitians suffered life changing injuries and now have significant physical disabilities. It has been estimated that 10% of all Haitians have a disability. Providing mobility devices would dramatically improve the quality of life for people who are most in need. We wanted to help meet the needs of those with physical disabilities in Haiti to obtain appropriate mobility devices. That’s why we started our Mobility Devices for Haiti program.
The Mobility Devices for Haiti program became one of our main projects at our shop in Port-Au-Prince. Our team trained eight members of Team Zaryen to make mobility devices, such as canes, quad canes, walkers and roller walkers out of PVC pipe . Our goal was to provide jobs for people with disabilities as well as serve those in Haiti who are in need of these mobility devices. Devices are made by individuals with disabilities in our shop in Haiti and are delivered to those in need in nearby villages. The people residing in these villages often have no other way of obtaining or learning how to use a mobility device. PVC is a locally available material, lightweight and reasonably priced. We are able to customize the equipment to the person in need. The craftsmen are able to fit the devices, instruct and demonstrate how to use them.
In order to meet the needs of all those in need in Haiti, we feel assistive devices need to be made available free of charge to people who cannot afford them. Therefore, we depend on and are so grateful for fundraising to support this program.
We also partner with local clinics and medical mission groups to provide mobility devices for their work in Haiti. If you are affiliated with a clinic or mission team going to Haiti, we can help!
Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in ordering mobility devices. We would love to partner with you!
More about Mobility Devices
Mobility devices are some of the most common types of assistive devices. Assistive devices are any piece of equipment, or product, whether it is acquired commercially, modified or customized that is used to increase, maintain or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
Mobility devices are appropriate for people who experience mobility difficulties as a result of a broad range of health conditions and impairments, including amputation, arthritis, cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, stroke and visual impairment. They are also relevant for older people who experience difficulty moving around. Mobility devices have a significant impact on the user’s level of independence. They reduce the need for formal support services and burden on caregivers. They create opportunity for education and work, and contribute to improved health and quality of life.
In less resourced areas, such as Haiti, there are many barriers to accessing mobility devices. Affordability has been identified as one of the main reasons why people with disabilities do not receive needed health care in low income countries. With higher rates of unemployment and poverty than nondisabled people, many people with disabilities are unable to afford assistive technology and related services . Where available, services are often centralized in major rehab centers in big cities. Traveling to these centers can be costly and time consuming for people with disabilities and their families. Many people with disabilities are unaware of the existence and benefits of mobility devices and have limited purchasing capacity. Physical barriers may also limit a person’s ability to use the mobility device, for example, if their home, school or work is not wheelchair accessible. Physical barriers are often exacerbated in environments affected by natural disaster, poverty and conflict.
Manufacturing and assembling mobility devices locally, using local materials, can reduce the cost and ensure that devices are suitable for the context. They must be suitable for the local environment and come with related services and training.
(WHO, Provision of Mobility Devices in Less Resourced Areas, 2011).