The United Nations estimates that globally there are over 70 million people who have lost the use of their legs due to accidents, landmines, disease or defects. Many of those affected live in underdeveloped countries where terrain is difficult to navigate, public transport is inaccessible, and individuals with physical disabilities are ostracized.
This is where Mobility Worldwide comes in. The international organization has one of its 23 global workshops right here in Bryan, Texas, where volunteers come together to build handcrafted PET (personal energy transportation) carts. These tri-wheeled vehicles utilize a hand-pedal system and have extensive cargo space to give those with severe leg impairment the gift of transport. Recipients report that with a cart, they are better able to go to work, be active contributors for their families, attend school, and feel dignified. Thus, receiving a cart can often mean the difference between abject poverty and becoming a contributing member of the community.
The Mobility Worldwide Brazos Valley chapter was opened in 2009, and has built and distributed over 3,500 of such carts in the past ten years. After hundreds are built, MWBV works with the two other chapters in Texas and those around the United States to fill shipping containers with their packaged carts, and sends the containers on to partner nonprofit organizations across the world. This year alone, MWBV has sent 220 carts to Zambia and is in the process of filling a second container with over 170 carts for Liberia.
Though the organization is faith-based, there are no restrictions for who can be a recipient. “Our only concern is whether our mobility device can assist you and that you are in need of it – it doesn’t matter to us whether or not you are a Christian, what country you live in, or who you align with politically,” Margot Newcomb, MWBV’s Shop Manager explained.
She also shared that there is no limit for who can become a volunteer. “We’ve got two 90 year olds in the shop today,” Newcomb added. Anyone interested in lending a hand on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday mornings will be trained on different parts of the assembly in order to contribute.
To produce and ship carts internationally for just $300, MWBV’s entire local team is comprised of unpaid volunteers. In addition to their fundraising efforts, the organization also receives annual in-kind donations that help keep the costs per cart affordable. If you are interested in learning more or in helping ‘hands on’ at their facility, visit: https://bit.ly/2GZMjxL