Mobilizing the physically challenged in Liberia
The United Methodist Women in Liberia on Nov. 24 distributed Personal Energy Transportation devices to the physically challenged in Ganta City and other parts of Nimba County in northern Liberia.
The women’s group, in partnership with Mobility Worldwide (formerly Personal Energy Transportation Inc.), launched the distribution activities on Oct. 6, and has since been giving out the wheelchairs to needed individuals.
Personal Energy Transportation devices, or PETs, are three-wheeled, all-terrain wheelchairs operated by a hand crank. They are inexpensive to produce and of great help to those who have lost the use of their legs.
According to the Rev. Rose Farhat, director of Liberia’s United Methodist Women, the distribution of the wheelchairs in Liberia is the women’s way of addressing the needs of their sisters and brothers who are physically challenged.
“We want you to get to the places you desire to go unhindered,” she affirmed.
The wheelchair distribution is one of many ways the United Methodist Women in Liberia are responding to the needs of the physically challenged. In partnership with Mobility Worldwide, about 180 wheelchairs, worth $54,000, were sent to Liberia for the women to distribute.
In a letter sent to the United Methodist Women in Liberia, Von Diggs, director of operations of Personal Energy Transportation Inc., said the wheelchairs were sent to Liberia with the understanding that they would be given to the disabled free of cost. “The government of Liberia promised to verify that the wheelchairs will be considered as humanitarian cargo and will be distributed as such,” the letter noted.
To see a PET in use, click here.
Receiving the wheelchair from the women, Abel Gbeadquoi said he was now empowered to carry on his advocacy for the physically challenged in Nimba County. Gbeadquoi, now a junior student at the Nimba Community College, said he is not in school now because he lacks a wheelchair. “I will return to school as of January 2018 with this new wheelchair,” he said.
He pointed out that the distances that he could not cover or for which he depended on motorbike taxi will now be covered easily. “I am thankful to the United Methodist Women and the people who thought about us to send these wheelchairs,” he said with a smile.
Earlier in Gbarnga City, Bong County, Farhat said the prayers of the physically challenged, especially those with mobility problems, has been answered. “You all prayed for wheelchairs and someone in the United States of America heard your prayers,” she said.
She cautioned recipients that the wheelchairs were for their movement and not to be sold or exchanged for anything. Farhat noted that the project was mainly targeting women with mobility problems, but would consider men with similar conditions. “We want you to be able to go to the market and move around without you waiting for someone to move you,” she emphasized.
Jartu Morris, a female recipient, said the mobility cart would help her cover more distances, adding, “No more spending money on motorbike taxis for transportation.”
Another recipient, Eric Gboluma, pointed out that the wheelchairs will reduce the use of his palms, which he uses to propel his regular wheelchair. “Though I will use my hands, the use of physical strength will be reduced, and my health will improve because I will not touch the tires,” Gboluma added.
Thanking the United Methodist Women in Liberia and partners, Gboluma said disability was not inability, adding, “You have given us the tool to prove ourselves to our neighbors that we can go places and do things for ourselves.”
Swen is a communicator in Liberia. News media contact: Vicki Brown, Nashville, Tennessee, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.