The story of Ayuba Gufwan, polio survivor and founder of HARC (Handicapped Advocacy and Rehabilitation Center), is central to the Wheels of Hope project.
HARC was founded in 2007 with the help of Jos, Nigeria charities and some international business organizations. Within months of building the rugged and unique hand crank wheelchairs, it became apparent more funds would be necessary to acquire additional equipment to craft the chairs in volume.
That’s when fate stepped in.
On a trip to Nigeria in early 2008, and as a participant in Rotary International’s polio National Immunization Day, Ann Lee Hussey met Ayuba. She had known of his workshop, but this was their first actual meeting—-and the connection of kindred spirits was immediately made. Ann Lee, a polio survivor, as well as former president of the Casco Bay (Maine) Sunrise Rotary Club, and past Rotary District Governor, had a special appreciation for the mission of HARC and its talented, dedicated work force.
“In my mind, what Ayuba and his associates were doing with so little recalled a quotation from Dr. Jonas Salk, who developed the anti-polio vaccine: ‘Hope lies in dreams, in imagination, and in the courage of those who dare to make dreams into reality….’
“Feeling the courage and imagination welling from Ayuba’s soul, I knew his dreams would become reality and I wanted to be part of them,” recalled Ann Lee following her Nigerian trip.
Shortly after returning home from that providential meeting, Ann Lee met Al Bonney, president-elect of the Rotary Club of Traverse City, Michigan, and asked him to lead a grant application effort which could benefit HARC. “We met at the Rotary International Convention in Los Angeles, and I was immediately impressed by the potential of helping HARC,” recalls Al. “As a polio survivor, Ann Lee’s passion for this project was readily apparent. There was no question in my mind that I wanted to be part of Ayuba’s dream too.”
There followed a series of alliances and hands-across-the-globe efforts which led to a $120,000 Rotary Foundation matching grant for supplies and equipment to build 1000 wheelchairs. Led by the Casco Bay Sunrise and Traverse City Rotary clubs, 25 other Rotary clubs on three continents joined the Rotary Foundation and the Polio Survivors and Associates Rotary Action Group to finally, in January of 2010, send a check for $120,000 to the Rotary Club of Naraguta in Jos, Nigeria enabling Ayuba to begin work.
So in January of 2010, the HARC began ordering equipment which would improve manufacturing efficiency, and the necessary bicycle parts to build and distribute 1,000 wheelchairs to polio survivors across the northern five states in Nigeria that continue to have new polio cases every year.
And that might be “the rest of the story….” were it not for the ongoing efforts of Al Bonney, Ann Lee Hussey, Ayuba and his staff, and the support of worldwide Rotary.
Since the need for wheelchairs remains unfulfilled, Wheels of Hope was created to provide HARC with a way to sustain its efforts in the future.
Thus, the hands-around-the-world alliance continues.
And your wheelchair purchase contributes to that life…..