She’s a 15-year-old in Nigeria, pretty as a picture and emotionally not a lot different from our daughters or granddaughters.
Of course for Uma there are some differences. She has never attended school and as a polio survivor her crippled legs prevent doing any work and helping with the family income.
Uma spends most of her day begging in the street with other polio survivors. Her smile, however, remains undiminished, just like her aspirations. She hopes to one day attend school, become a doctor and have a family.
On her way to fulfilling dreams, Uma now has a wheelchair, presented about a year ago. That smile is infectious, reflective of her new found mobility and lending promise to some unfulfilled life achievements.
She is now attending school 13 miles from her family’s hut, wheeling herself to and from the bus stop every day. Her new mobility has given Uma hope while inciting family encouragement and support for her schooling. Her promising future holds the potential for helping financially support her family.
Ayuba Gufwan: Visionary and leader
He was given his first wheelchair at the age of 17 and was able to start school and education which led to a university degree.
When Ayuba returned to Jos, Nigeria, it was with the intent to start a workshop and advocacy program to help the region’s many polio survivors. He called this workshop the Handicapped Advocacy and Rehabilitation Center (HARC). And it was there that hand crank wheelchairs were built and provided free to polio survivors.
“These survivors were just like me,” explains Ayuba. “And without wheelchairs, they would be relegated to a life lived in the dust and degradation of shame, exclusion and poverty.”
His vision was that one day the region’s polio survivors would be able to attend school, get good jobs, marry and enjoy fulfilling and productive lives. He knew this was possible because he had done it. And he was now committed to living a life in pursuit of this dream.
A vision, business plan, and four tenets…..
Central to Ayuba’s plan were four fundamental business tenets:
- The wheel chairs built by HARC would be given free of charge to polio survivors.
- Part and equipment would be sourced in Nigeria, thus eliminating the cost of shipping, import fees and customs red tape.
- All construction would be done by Nigerians in Nigeria, assuring jobs and a contribution to the local economy.
- Wheelchairs would be durable, constructed to handle the rough Nigerian terrain. They would also be designed for ease of use by polio survivors with special needs and capabilities.
Today Ayuba has a wife, two healthy little girls, and drives a car. He enjoys making phone calls worldwide to friends who support HARC’s wheelchair production. And he has also attended several Rotary International conventions held in the U.S.