As part of its local outreach programme, WIZO (Women’s International Zionist Organisation) South Africa has secured funding for the import of 50 child-size wheelchairs from Israeli NPO, Wheelchairs of Hope.
Aimed at five to nine-year-old children with disabilities who are semi-active and can push themselves, the colourful, lightweight wheelchairs will be distributed across South Africa.
These inexpensive wheelchairs are made of rugged plastic in kid-friendly colours, can handle off-road conditions and require little maintenance. The innovative design is the brainchild of Israeli couple, Pablo Kaplan and Chava Rotshtein, who formed Wheelchairs of Hope as a humanitarian mission specifically to help children with disabilities in developing countries.
Kaplan approached WIZO South Africa to assist them in finding worthy recipients for the wheelchairs. It was a task which WIZO gladly undertook, as it fits perfectly with its own objectives of working to uplift underprivileged women and children in Israel, with an emphasis on early childhood education.
As a Zionist movement, WIZO is proud to align itself with this amazing project which is another example of Israel’s contribution to the world in terms of technological innovation made available at minimal or no cost.
In South Africa, many parents cannot afford an item as expensive as a wheelchair, leaving thousands of children with disabilities without mobility and without hope. Most of these children will not attend school nor have access to formal education, thus disabling them even further.
The World Health Organisation reports that the gift of mobility becomes the catalyst to increased independence and social integration.
As Kaplan says: “The idea is not the chair itself, but the mobility and independence it gives to children who would otherwise not have any access to school or community life.”
The purchase of the first consignment of 50 chairs was made possible through the generosity of Bernhard and Pearl Lazarus in Israel, Dominique Lambert-Gamsu, Louis and Debbie Van der Walt, and Shelley Friedman of the George Elkin Trust, and will arrive within weeks.
This is just a drop in the ocean compared with the actual need for children’s wheelchairs in South Africa and WIZO is currently in the process of finding deserving beneficiaries for the wheelchairs.