Ahmad Usman is 17 years old, married, and has a 1 1/2 year old child. He and his family live with his parents in Jos because they cannot afford their own housing yet. Ahmad makes Pam sandals (flip-flops) and sells them in a little shop he has in the market. On a good day he could make 20 pairs. If he got there late (he used to have to scoot his butt and worthless legs around on a skateboard-like device) he could only make 13 pairs. His biggest problem was that his supplier for parts is quite a way from his shop and he had to pay people to go fetch his orders for him.
The wheelchair, Ahmad says, will help him a lot. He can get to work on time every day thereby producing more product to sell. Additionally, he can make the trips to the supplier himself, saving him money and improving his profit margin. He is VERY happy to have this new wheelchair because he believes he can now fulfill his dream of becoming a distributor of sandals to other shops.
Sadiq Salisu is 12 years old and a student at a local lower School in Jos. He is in grade three, he explains, and “I like to design clothes.”
Sadiq had a difficult time getting to school on time because even though he can walk a bit, he could not “fight” his way onto the public bus in the morning and was therefore either late or didn’t get to school at all.
All that has changed now that he has a wheelchair. He likes school and his eyes light up when he talks about his lessons and how well he can do when he is in school. And he continues drawing his new versions of clothing he finds in magazines!
Sadiya Abdullahi is 36 years old and lives with her family in Kaduna. She is married with 6 children and contributes to the family welfare by knitting sweaters. Her children had to run all her errands to purchase yarn, take orders and deliver the finished sweaters because she could not move more than several yards at a time without assistance.
Sadiya is very pleased having received her wheelchair in December. She, along with many others at the distribution ceremony, was over- whelmed with emotion the first time she hauled herself from the dirt into the seat of her new wheelchair and pedaled it the first few strokes.
We asked her what difference the wheelchair would make in her life. After wiping her tears of joy away, she told us how she now could run her business all by herself, leaving her children to go to school and earn their own money thereby adding to the family’s liveli-hood and making everyone happier. All for the simple gift of a life trans-forming wheelchair. I guess we are all happier too, Sadiya.
Ukashi Salisu is 15 and a student in one of the local high schools in Jos. He loves school and wants to be a lawyer. The problem was that he could never get to school on time because he had to pull himself around on his hands or walk on his knees as his lower legs are worthless. The wheelchair will make it possible for him to be on time every day.
Another challenge…he has a half year to go till graduation but his father will not pay the $100 school fees to keep him in school because “he is not worth the expense.” Ukashi has good grades when he can get to school but he fears his dreams of graduation and going to the university may be gone.
Unknown to Ukashi, we helped the local Rotary club make sure the fees were paid (directly to the school) and we look forward to being invited to his graduation ceremonies next summer, and we anticipate his acceptance to the university.
All this because of a wheelchair that transformed a life and created some independence and self-reliance.
Uma is from a small village outside Kaduna. We first met Uma four years ago when she was 12. She lived with her mother and father and 3 sisters. Prior to receiving her wheelchair Uma was left behind in the house every day with no help and no particular resources for her safety or survival. If she needed something she had to take care of herself; walking, as she did, with little ability to stand let alone manage any food preparation. She did not go to school but she had dreams of being a school teacher because she knew, if only she could get there, that she would love school.
Well, indeed, she does love school. She is now four years older, married, has a 1 year old son and still goes to school. She intends to become a nurse and is very happy to have her second wheelchair—one that fits her more adult frame. We are happy for you, too, Uma.