Wheelchair recipients in Africa
Wheelchair recipients in Africa
Lions Club of Harare
Wheelchair recipients in Africa

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: >>> In Tanzania, along “Mosquito’s River,” Conservation Foundation Trust works with local tribal communities to reach disabled children, adults, and elderly in an area seldom visited by aid organizations. Traditional rural trade routes meet in areas where multiple Tribes have settled. In villages like Mto Wa Bbu, like any major cultural hub, people from all stations of life do business together and take part in caring for one another. >>> Lions Club of Harare West presents wheelchairs to individuals and institutions in need of wheelchair mobility. >>> Recipients and their families gather to celebrate the gift of a wheelchair. >>> Lots of excited and happy recipients take a moment to thank the Lions for their efforts to assist the people of Zimbabwe. >>>

For more than 20 years Wheelchair Foundation has been providing wheelchairs to partner organizations whose specialty is to reach deep into rural areas not frequented by other aid organizations.

Mto Wa Mbu is a small village a little over 75 miles due west from Arusha, Tanzania. The name “Mto Wa Mbu” means “Mosquitos’ River.” Here locals grow bananas and host tourists who pass through on their treks to Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro Crater, and Serengeti National Park. The populace is made up of members of some 150 unique tribes with nearly as many languages spoken.

Conservation Foundation Trust (CFT) is committed to supporting communities in and around wildlife reserves and protected areas. The community support is part of a partnership with the villages to conserve the natural resources and ensure that they receive tangible benefits from the sustainable use of wildlife in the protected areas. On behalf of Wheelchair Foundation, CFT was able to distribute 20 wheelchairs to the disabled people of Mto Wa Mbu bordering Monduli Juu Open Area.

South of Tanzania, in Zimbabwe, the Lions Club of Harare West has been a wheelchair distribution partner helping to reach the disabled near Harare. Although grateful for the privilege to serve their community through assistance rendered through the receipt of wheelchairs, their work has revealed greater demand than they have supplied. Economic constraints within the country and the early effects of the global pandemic may very well continue to increase the demand for wheelchairs.

As with many distribution efforts, in the process of identifying individuals in need of a wheelchair, when the word spreads, suddenly the demand rises above the number of wheelchairs available. Many partner organizations maintain lists of people in need, in the hope that more wheelchairs will arrive. In Africa, there is always a need. It may just take more effort to reach those waiting for relief.

We are thankful for our partners, their families, and our donors, all of who keep making our work possible.

This article was written by Douglas Cockcroft, Managing Director of Splitting Image Taxidermy.

The joy of giving is truly one of lifes greatest gifts. Through the wheelchair foundation, the gift of mobility and a chance at a better quality life is given to people from all across the globe.

In a relatively short space of time, the Wheelchair foundation has achieved the incredible milestone of donating and distributing over 1 million wheelchairs globally. This is a feat that was achieved through the passion and selfless giving of time and resources of Mr. Kenneth Behring.

On a global map, Africa represents one of the worlds largest populations in need. The remotest areas are often forgotten and those in need in these areas would ordinarily never  have the slightest chance of the gift of mobility. These are the areas where the Wheelchair foundation has had greatest impact.

On the 15th October 2015, Mr. Kenneth Behring and a few associates, met in a small rural settlement in the Eastern Cape of South Africa to give the gift of mobility to 11 people with disabilities that had taken away their freedom of movement. Having been in contact with a number of local charity organisations in the area, candidates were brought together to meet at the Assumption Development Centre in Joza Township. In any first world situation, the candidates would have been lining up at the door, but in communities like these, dispite the opportunity, these disabled candidates do not even have access to basic transport to get to these events. Poverty and disadvantage are common practice, and only a small number in need ever actually receive the opportunity at a new beginning.

With the kind support of Ezulu Game reserve, and the charity organizations, candidates were collected from their homes far and wide and brought together for a brief but very emotional gathering. The faces of ladies who had suffered illness and lost limbs, as they sat in their new wheelchairs was a sight for sore eyes. These are women who care for their families dispite their own limiting disabilities, and do the best they are able to survive on a daily basis. To them, these wheelchairs are their saving grace and the gift that will transform their lives going forward.

The children born with disfigurements that have forced them into an immobile life, are suddenly transformed to children with hope. The elderly who have long given up any dreams of being able to care for themselves, are given a final chance at a mobile life of dignity.

The event saw so many smiles in such a small centre. Mr. Behring was once again leading from the front and stood with open arms so acknowledge the abilities of those who have been branded as “disable” for so long.

2015-10-16 11.37.06The greatest gift a man can give is his time. With the efforts of men like Mr.Behring and those mobility warriors he surrounds himself with, the future of so many lost causes will be given the opportunity at a mobile life that we all so richly deserve

Our sincerest thanks goes out to  the following organizations for their continued passion and efforts in caring for the disabled.

Raphael Skills and Development centre.

Jabez AIDS health care centre

Child Welfare



Keep giving and let the wheels of freedom roll forwards.

Douglas Cockcroft

Managing Director

Splitting Image Taxidermy

Ghana celebrates International Day of People with Disability

December 3rd, 2011 – GHANA, WESTERN AFRICA

It was a long journey, but earlier this week I found myself in the city of Wa, Ghana, in western Africa. We traveled to Wa with our country partners, Ministerial Development and Relief Programme, to participate in Ghana’s celebration of the International Day of People with Disability.

We marched in a parade through the city with an array of people representing all sorts of disability, visual, physical, hearing impaired, etc. It was amazing, and certainly worth the effort to get there. There was only a single wheelchair in the parade, but it was one that had been donated years before by Wheelchair Foundation.


Rehabilitation Center in Ghana

December 7th, 2011 – KUMASI, GHANA

Wednesday we found ourselves in Kumasi, Ghana, where we visited a rehabilitation center for abandoned children and adults with disabilities. The center’s director talked with us about the challenges of social stigma in Ghana, and of how families would deliver children to the center and never return.

The center is totally supported through donations, and the 15 wheelchairs we presented to them will make a significant impact on those without mobility. Thanks again to Keegan Resources Inc., and African Gold Group for making this donation possible.


Salem Noshie and son, William Wonder

December 8th, 2011 – ACCRA, GHANA

Thursday, we witnessed the true power of modern technology in aid distribution. We presented a wheelchair to Salem Noshie, a woman living in Accra, Ghana, who had suffered a debilitating stroke nearly seven years earlier. She had contacted a woman, Janice, in the United States via the internet. Janice called me to ask if I could help, and I e-mailed her information to our partners on the ground in Accra. They contacted her son, William Wonder, and invited them to a distribution site in Accra.

I met Salem Noshie and William in person on Thursday afternoon. William handed me his mobile phone, and Janice was on the line in the United States and thanked me for helping her friend. It was at that point that I discovered that none of these people had ever met in person before, and the effort to assist Salem Noshie was all through e-mail, text, video chat and phone calls.

It was a great honor and pleasure to make this all come true for a very beautiful and deserving family who had been trying for years to obtain a simple wheelchair for a mother in need.


Women of Bamako

December 10th, 2011 – BAMAKO, MALI

On Saturday, we worked with partners AGEMPEM in Bamako, Mali, to distribute wheelchairs to individuals in need of mobility at the CVD Clinic of Mali. Among the many to receive wheelchairs were a group of four women, all of whom arrived on hands and knees and left with new red wheelchairs.

One participant commented, “By making these women mobile and happy, you have made all the women of Mali happy.”


Nouhoum Coulibaly and Gordon Holmes with recipients

December 11th, 2011 – SELINGUE, MALI

Sunday, we traveled to Selingue, southwest of Bamako, to distribute wheelchairs to people from surrounding villages. Here we again worked with partner AGEMPEM and members of African Gold Group, who had assisted in identifying recipients in the villages in remote areas where they work. Some recipients traveled 15 or more kilometers for the opportunity to receive their first wheelchairs.

Here, Nouhoum Coulibaly of AGG, and Gordon Holmes of Streetwise, Inc., work with recipients to ensure they understand the proper use of their new wheelchairs, and to hear their stories to better understand the plight of the disabled in rural Mali.



Disabled people of Bamako

December 11th, 2011 – BAMAKO, MALI

Sunday night, we returned to Bamako with AGEMPEM to continue our work. Interviewing those present, we learn that the cause of many of their disabilities remains a mystery. Some were victims of accidents, some water-borne disease, and some have no explanation.

When we inquire about the availability of mobility devices, most just shrug their shoulders. No money means no wheelchair, and one young man asked us to explain what a wheelchair was, because he had no idea.



A boy finally receives mobility

December 12th, 2011 – SANANKOROBA, MALI

“It never hurts to ask.”

Our final wheelchair distribution event in Mali occurred in Sanankoroba, south of the capital city of Bamako. We arrived to tribal drumming and women in colorful dress dancing in a wide circle.

As the women stomped in the sand and dust, a young man in a bright green soccer jersey, who was accompanied by his father, caught my eye. He seemed very focused on everything that was happening around him. He was aware of all of the dignitaries in attendance, the media, and the excitement of the crowd. I asked Isaac, the gentleman from AGEMPEM I was working with, what he knew about the boy. He spoke with the woman from the village, who was his primary contact, to get the child’s story.

As it turned out, the young man was a fixture in the village, one of the disabled who was always around. She told us that “He came by her school every day and asked her if she could help him in any way, maybe help him with his legs, which didn’t work.” She reached out to Isaac at about the same time Wheelchair Foundation contacted him about acting as consignee for our shipment of wheelchairs for Mali, nearly a year ago.

So, this day, after more than 12 months of asking at every opportunity, this young man finally got a wheelchair and no longer needs to crawl in the dirt, sand and dust. The evidence of his plight is shown in his face, his hands, knees and legs.

So many people from the village thanked us for delivering wheelchairs to their brothers and sisters that it made my head spin. They consider themselves too far off the map to ever receive aid, and yet we managed to reach them. The joy they shared with us and with one another at this wheelchair distribution was greater than the value of any material gift we could have been given.


Mary Honeybun

Cape Town, South Aftrica – Mary Honeybun of Cape Town, South Aftrica, turns tiny pieces of plastic into life-changing gifts! The incredible octogenarian raises funds for wheelchairs by collecting the tags used to keep plastic bags tied around a loaf of bread – something most people discard without giving it a second thought.

Mary sells the bread tags for recycling and facilitates the handing out of wheelchairs for disabled people with the help of the Wheelchair Foundation. Most of the recipients of the chairs had lost limbs through diabetes or the ability to walk due to a stroke.

Mary Honeybun was initially inspired when she heard of a project through which “people collect the plastic tags at the top of bread bags to raise funds for charity projects” and in 2006, she founded Bread Tags for Wheelchairs.

Currently, Mary Honeybun is working in partnership with Adri Spannenberg, director of the Polystyrene Packaging Council of SA – an NPO – and they hope that soon more people in need will be given their independence.

The Polystyrene Packaging Council have helped Mary organize the transport for her tags to the recycling plant and made containers for her collections. They also supply her with labels and photo frames, which she hands out during her talks to schools and other groups, although Mary prefers to re-use old boxes in the spirit of recycling.

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The Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, has directed institutions responsible for issuing permits for public buildings not to do so for buildings that are not designed to make them accessible to the physically challenged.


The Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, has directed institutions responsible for issuing permits for public buildings not to do so for buildings that are not designed to make them accessible to the physically challenged. 

He said although the Disability Law had been promulgated, permits were still issued on buildings which had disregarded the needs of people with physical challenges. 

Mr Mahama gave the directive when he presented more than 100 wheelchairs and accessories to physically challenged persons in Tamale at the weekend. 

The items were donated by the Wheelchair Foundation based in the United States of America (USA) and the Rotary Club of Tamale to better the lives of the vulnerable. 

He recalled that the Mills government, after the passage of the law, directed that all public building should be designed to give access to the challenged, but noted that the directives had not been strictly adhered to. 

“I want to reiterate the directive by President Mills that those responsible for giving permits, as well as architects and designers, must make room for such buildings,” he stressed. 

The Vice-President expressed concern about how people, particularly schoolchildren, had to struggle on daily basis to gain access to public buildings and their schools, adding that “I therefore asked for the strict enforcement of that law.” 

Mr Mahama appealled to parents not to confine their physically challenged children to the streets to beg for alms, stressing that the role of such children was not to beg, but they should be allowed to reach their full potential in terms of education. 

He said education had been made free from the basic to the university level for challenged children and urged parents to take advantage of that gesture and send their children to school, stressing that “parents of the disabled have no excuse now not to send their children to school”. 

Mr Mahama noted that physically challenged persons had contributed a lot to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) hence the need to support their course. 

He said there were a lot of challenged persons who were contributing significantly to all sectors of the economy and stressed the need for the public “to change our perception about people with disability”. 

The Northern Regional Minister, Mr Bukari Moses Mabengba, commended the Rotary Wheelchair Foundation of Rotary International for the donation. 

He said his outfit was committed to harnessing all productive labour, including the physically challenged, in order to build a better Ghana, adding that no section or group would be marginalised in the society. 

The President of the Rotary Club of Tamale, Mr Joseph A. Mumuni, said the Rotary Club of Tamale and its partners had spent more than $1.6 million over the past two years in the areas of health, water and sanitation in the three northern regions. 

SOURCE: Graphic Ghana