Babalo Pholose can now “go everywhere I want to go” after receiving new mobility equipment from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last week.
Pholose, who suffers from TB in the spine or spinal tuberculosis, said, “If there was no equipment like this, I would be sleeping in [my] bed. I couldn’t move around. So now … I can go to town; go to work.”
Ashley Dirks received a specially fitted wheelchair as well at the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre in Lentegeur, South Africa. He demonstrated how his advanced wheelchair could maneuver over curbs, uneven walkways and gravel paths.
The donation from the Church included 900 wheelchairs, 1,200 mobility aids, eight rural wheelchair repair shops, tools and training to local physiotherapists in the area, reported South Africa Newsroom. The program is run in partnership with the Western Cape Department of Health.
Reports show about two out of every 100 people in South Africa live with some form of communication, self-care or walking difficulty. Like Pholose implied, without wheelchairs, people with physical disabilities are often left behind, either confined to their beds or homes, and unable to attend school or use public transportation.
Training for the mobility devices — and getting the right fit — is crucial. Therapists and providers received training over three days to learn to assess patients’ needs and fit them to wheelchairs that are right for them.
Cynthia Engelbrecht with the Western Cape Rehabilitation Center said the Church program means “the quality of life [for our patients] improves because we are getting the right wheelchairs to the right person. Setting up places and services helps so much.”
The donation also included 200 commodes. Elder David Nish who along with his wife Sister Theresa Nish, is a South African resident and local missionary serving with Latter-day Saint Charities, explained that many people in the rural areas of South Africa do not have toilets inside their homes. “In the middle of the night, it is both dangerous and unpleasant to have to get into a wheelchair, go outside over stones and ditches to get to the latrine,” said Elder Nish. “This will give them far greater dignity and improve the quality of their lives.”
Bellville South Africa Stake President Paul Kruger explained that the donation was funded by contributions from Church members all over the world. “We are about empowering people … to lead happy and productive lives. We believe that loving and serving our neighbors is a true expression of Christianity to our neighbors.”