Wheels For Humanity

We are thrilled to partner with Wheels for Humanity to bring up to 500 wheelchairs to Ethiopia in September 2011!  Please feel free to visit their website to learn more about the organization, however, if you wish to donate to the Ethiopia Smile Wheelchair Drive specifically, you must use the specific form below!  

In May 2011 UCP Wheels for Humanity partnered with IOCC and JF Kapnek Trust - shipped 280+ wheelchairs into Zimbabwe. We had two volunteer CRTS / ATP on our team,  Mark Grillo from Sacramento and Mark Hawkins from Santa Rosa. We facilitated seating clinics in Victory Falls and in Harare where we fitted 280 men, women and children. Please click on the photo below to see a slide show our team and our partners work.

Here is a letter shared by the Wheels For Humanity:
Two years ago, Ephrem, was working in South Gondor on a Food for the Hungry Project as a food security coordinator.  He and a driver were heading up very steep mountain terrain when the vehicle lost traction and fell 70 meters off the cliff, rolling 15 times.  Ephrem was ejected from the vehicle.  The driver was miraculously fine.  Ephrem however, recalls the cries and wailing of the villagers who witnessed the accident and were first on the seen.  He was taken to the local clinic but since there was not a doctor, they drove him to Bahir Dar.  Due to the severity of his injuries he was driven 10-12 hours to a hospital in Addis where he stayed for 6 months.  His spine was broken between the T8-T9 vertebrae, he had a broken leg and of course cuts and bruises.

Ephrem's mother came to visit him in the hospital and said, "you will die in one day, goodbye."  One by one, each of Ephrem's family members disowned him due to his injuries and the burden he would now be on his family.

Paralyzed from the waist down, heartbroken and severely depressed, Ephrem was released from the hospital and rented a one room home.  He many times hired a housemaid for 200 birr a month to come visit him a couple times a week, change his bed linens and feed him. He said the turnover was quite high as no one wanted to help him.  Ephrem remained in bed, immobile and developed severe bed sores.  He has required additional skin graft surgeries due to bed sores.

Many times he cried out to God in his loneliness, "why did You let me live?  why do you leave me so alone?"  He begged God to let him die and eventually attempted to take his own life.   His only visitor continued during this time to be John Connelly.  John is the FH country director who began with FH Ethiopia just over a year ago.  As soon as he started his job, he began visiting Ephrem. 

Several months ago, John and his wife, Janice, invited Ephrem to come live in their home (they are also parents to four boys, two of whom still live at home and attend school).  Ephrem now has full time care and a family.  Upon moving into their home, Ephrem's spirits began to lift.  Although still suffering the rejection of his own family, he now had full time care and was gaining a new family.  Ephrem shared with us that the Connelly family has one cable outlet to their home and that they re-routed the cable to Ephrem's room and installed a large flat screen TV for him.  He said they visit daily with him.  Aside from the Connelly's and the compound guards, Ephrem does not have any other friends or family, much less visitors.  But he said God has given him great hope, his joy and contentment has returned and He trusts God that God has a plan for him.  Even being confined to a bed and four walls, Ephrem trusts God and His goodness.

Upon our team's arrival we found Ephrem laying in his bed and working on his laptop computer.  (Although no longer employed by FH, Ephrem is personally employed by a benevolent friend).  It was late in the evening but Ephrem knew we were on our way and bringing with us the wheelchair.  His face beamed and he had the biggest smile upon his face.  Ephrem speaks fairly good English and we were able to share with him how this wheelchair was obtained.  He was speechless and just kept saying "thank you, I have no words," over and over and over.

We quickly set about putting his wheelchair together.  It was late at night so Ephrem asked that we leave it by his bedside and he would try it out in the morning.  I would not be surprised if he tried it out that evening.  I think he did not an audience to see him being helped out of bed and into the chair.  

In the morning, one of my teammates knocked on my bedroom door and told me to go look out the window.  We were staying at the Connelly's home.  I looked out the window and into the courtyard - and there was Ephrem in his "mercedes", as he calls his new wheelchair, with a massive grin across his face, wheeling around the courtyard as the two guards looked on with equally beaming faces.  We quickly joined him downstairs only to find he had already been out of the compound testing out his new ride.  He later shared with us that he and the guard went out for THREE hours that first day.  He said, "my life is changed!"  This man had spent the past two years laying in a bed and now has freedom!

The next morning we asked Ephrem to join us at a local restaurant in Addis for breakfast.  He was thrilled!  It was like watching him rediscover the world outside.  We walked with Ephrem through the streets as he shared with us how comfortable the wheelchair was and how happy he was to have the freedom to get out in the community.  He could not recall the last time he had been to a restaurant.  What a blessing for us to sit across the table from Ephrem's smile and listen to him talk about his faith and hope in Christ and his restored joy.

Ephrem also shared with us some big and recent news.  He is starting to have sensations in his legs!  At times the sensations have been so strong that he requires pain medication.  The sensations are different each day.  He does not have any mobility but his doctor told him there may be a slight chance that he could regain mobility.  The sensations, according to his doctor, are nerves repairing themselves.

So, we pray for a miracle, that Ephrem will one day walk again.  Our team of 5 also told Ephrem we would like to be his family across the ocean.  We committed to email, Skype and to pray for him.  Actually one of our team members remains in Addis as she just moved there for two years to run a guest house.  She will continue to visit Ephrem.

I'm not sure I fully appreciated the lifechanging affects of a wheelchair.  It was incredible to watch his change in just the few days we spent with him.  I know I keep telling you thank you, but like Ephrem, I don't have any other words.  I hope by sharing his story with you, you get a glimpse of him and his gratitude.   

Thank you for working so quickly on his behalf to arrange the wheelchair with UCP Wheels for Humanity.  

God bless!
WFH Donation Form