Eight-year-old Salamisa Vunilagi, Junior couldn’t stop smiling. He’s dreamed of one thing every day for as long as he can remember, and today, his dream finally came true.
Junior’s new wheelchair.
When Junior was an infant, he was diagnosed with meningitis, and the disease soon crippled him. Junior’s parents, Salamisa, Sr. and Vani Mainukulau, did everything they could, even trekking from their rural home to the nearest city of Labasa, in hopes of finding a cure for his paralyzed condition. They were broken-hearted to learn that nothing could be done. As each birthday passed, Junior remained completely dependent on his mother and father – while dreaming each day of independence. No longer a dream, Junior received a gift that changed the lives of the entire family – a new wheelchair.
This special delivery was made possible by the Wheelchair Foundation, along with the Rotary Club of Labasa, as part of the Vodafone “World of Difference” initiative undertaken by the ACATA Trust Fiji to provide assistance to the physically challenged. A total of 110 wheelchairs were presented to the Red Cross, the Spinal Injury Association, and other distribution partners over the course of 10 days, and one man in particular played a significant role in the success of this effort.
“This will give them mobility to move around and be productive and they do not have to depend on others. My message to them is to use the wheelchairs wisely.”
-Chetan Singh Heyer
Chetan (Chet) Singh Heyer is a native of Fiji, and his heart reaches out to the people living with disabilities in his homeland. During his visit to the country in 2010, Chet was alarmed by the overwhelming number of citizens in need of wheelchairs. He returned to the United States determined to make a difference in the lives of his island people, and became Founder and President of the fundraising project Fiji Wheelchairs.
Chet and his family aspired to bring the gift of mobility to their fellow Fijians, and with the help of the Wheelchair Foundation, the Singh Heyers were able to achieve their kind-hearted goal.