One of the Club’s members whilst visiting Fiji in late 2018 on a RAWCs humanitarian project had conversation with Assistant Governor Milika Wata-Marshall, Lautoka Rotary Club Fiji about the real need for wheelchairs for the western region of Fiji. Fiji has the highest rate of Type 2 Diabetes in the world and as a result many adults lose their legs and feet to the disease. Many children are born with debilitating conditions, having a wheelchair is a “game changer”.
The Rotary Club of Kincumber has for many years donated funds towards the Rotary Club of West Gosford’s long term Wheelchair Foundation project to fund wheelchairs in developing countries, under the management and stewardship of Rotarian Lyall Hood, now passed.
With agreement from all stakeholders, including Australian & Fiji Rotary Clubs, the Fiji Wheelchair Foundation project began in early 2019. Our Rotary Club contributed to the Wheelchair Foundation Fiji project through a donation of $2000.00 specifically to fund wheelchairs for Fiji. Other Rotary Clubs on the Central Coast and throughout Australia also financially supported the Wheelchair Foundation project.
The project was not without its challenges, the Wheelchair Foundation changed the shipping container size from 120 wheelchairs to 240 wheelchairs. What a dilemma to fund an 120 additional wheelchairs, this funding was achieved by West Gosford Rotary and the US Wheelchair Foundation. By the time contracts were signed, orders placed and production had just begun in Vietnam, COVID-19 hit the world. This resulted in production of wheelchairs being put on hold for several months. Rotary International has a way of getting things done even in difficult times, and in late August, 2020 a full shipment of 240 wheelchairs arrived safely in Fiji. Rotary Club of Lautoka, the recipients took charge of the distribution supported by Fiji Cancer Society and Purple Rose. There are some beautiful stories of grateful recipients who would otherwise be left on the floor or a bed.
The Rotary Club of Kincumber would like to dedicate this story to Rotarian Lyall Hood, who lost his life to illness several months ago. Without his vision, enthusiasm and dedication, many children and adults throughout developing world would not have had the benefit of ‘improved mobility’ through use of a wheelchair
Here are some of their stories……
Mrs. Shazia Nisha suffers from a rare but serious autoimmune nerve disorder , Guillain Barre Syndrome. If left untreated it can lead to paralysis. She has also developed Critical Illness Myopathy (a disease of the limbs and respiratory muscles) that is a result of being in the ICU ward for over two months. She has started to recover slightly and has been moved from Lautoka hospital to Twomey Rehabilitation Hospital in Suva. She has been undergoing intensive physiotherapy and has a good chance of 100% recovery over the next year. She was very happy and appreciative for the donation of the wheelchair to assist with her mobility while she recovers. It is interesting to note that Twomey Hospital is currently treating 6 patients with Guillain Barre Syndrome.
Mohammed Khan is 13 years old and was born with Cerebal Palsy. His parents were using a baby stroller when taking him out of the house but he has since outgrown that. He was spending the majority of his days laying down. His family were very appreciative to receive the wheelchair and have been able to use it to take Mohammed on outings and “walks” for fresh air.
Delivered into the Nadraki hills Rakiraki fiji, 4×4 access only. Very tearful and grateful. (Delivered by Jiten And Bhayo our Staff member and Rotary Community Corp volunteer). Lal Khushtal and Kusma Wati.
Natuna/rakiraki, deep in the mountains, across 2 creeks ( no bridge) A lady with a rare/unknown affliction taking her ability to walk and function away since infantcy. Sanjeena is 40 and never had a wheelchair.
Delivery to elderly 62 lady suffered a stroke and can’t walk. The family is caring for her at home and the chair greatly helps them with therapy, doctor visits and moving outdoors for Puja. The old one is seized up but it will go to another in need.
Lasoro has been crippled since 18 months and is now 17 years old. He had a very high fever from Meningitis that left him brain damaged. He us a twin and his brother, mother and other relatives help care for him. He outgrew his old wheelchair and it pretty much crumbled under him and he has to be carried. He spent mist of the last 6 months lying on a woven mat on the floor, and could not go to church service, which he enjoyed. He lives in a small remote settlement near Rakiraki Fiji, and this gift of mobility gives him some joy and greatly assists his family to care for him. They are so greatful and gave us a gift of Fiji Water bottles which is mined from under their lands.
Mrs Shabra Bibi from Nadi , had her right leg above the knee amputated last year from sepsis due to diabetes. She had no wheelchair and had fallen a few times using crutches. She was extremely grateful to receive this wheelchair and to now be mobile inside and outside her home. It is sad that amputation due to sepsis is common in Fiji among diabetes patients.
Mr. Akuila Ratuloa is a double amputee, yet another victim to Sepsis due to Diabetes. He had his right leg amputated above the knee in December 2020. He already had his left leg amputated below the knee in 2018. He was so very grateful for the donation of the wheelchair and expressed his deepest thanks to the various Rotary Clubs and the Wheelchair Foundation. He was very worried about how he would be able to mobilize once he was discharged from hospital.
Mrs. Nisha had a stroke in 2016. She suffers from neuropathic pain and lack of movement from this stroke. She also has Parkinsons Disease, Osteoarthritis of her lower back and Rheumatoid Arthritis. She is being taken care of by her only child, her daughter. She was brought to tears of joy when we presented the wheelchair as this will now enable her to move around her home. She can enjoy sitting on her verandah, watching TV and having meals at the table with her daughter. She was previously continually bedridden. Purple Rose also donated packs of diapers.