(this post is for July 23rd, 2007)
Man this is going to be a busy week. There is a ton to do, and I need to juggle my time between KCMC and the KASI peer group training camp. I am working on a formal evaluation for the outreach even tso that they can have some feedback about how they are doing, and also give me a chance to do a survey about other topics. Spent some time revising the survey, and it will soon be translated to swahili.
This morning, I met a student working at KCMC from the States, Salman. He is a student from Duke, and is here with other students to fix up broken medical equipment. He brought 5 broken wheelchairs that he found in a closet somewhere, and brought it to the wheelchair workshop to be fixed. He says he works with a program called Engineering World Health through Duke. The staff here at the worksho then spent all morning and fixed up all 5 wheelchairs. Now they can be used again to help transport patients around the hospital!
Then later today, we got a visit by some occupational therapists and apatient at the workshop, wanting to get some cushions made for the wheelchair. The patient is a young child, and has a fairly sever disability. The lack of cushions and support on the wheelchair has caused him to have very bad posture, and the chair is not even suitable for anything more than just transport. I had a chance to talk to the occupational therapist from Norway, Kristin. She tells me that these patients can only afford to have a free wheelchair from these non profit organizations, but none of these wheelchairs from Wheelchair Foundation are properly fitted for them, and feel that these organizations should support the local wheelchair workshops instead.
The wheelchair being used by the patient was distributed by Community Foundation Trust in Arusha, and the wheelchairs were donated from Wheelchair Foundation. It is a red 4-wheeler foldable wheelchair with fairly rugged wheels. While what they are doing is great, giving away wheelchairs for free, but having an improperly fitted wheelchair can do more harm than good.
So I wanted figure out if there was a way to change this situation, and try to get the sponsors for these wheelchairs to invest in these locally made wheelchairs instead. What we found out about these wheelchairs is that Wheelchair Foundation actually earns a large profit by cutting costs and receiving a good amount of money from donors to get these wheelchairs distributed. It seems like there is a substantial amount of money involved, and I am not so sure how I can go about improving this situation.
Abdullah dropped me off in town, and on the way back, we dropped by his house for lunch. His wife made us Pilau! It was so good. I told Abdullah about what I thought of Wheelchair Foundation, and he told me that Motivation had successfully convinced the British government to not allow Wheelchair Foundations to import those chairs.
Ahh this is a big mess, and I should really think about what I can do to change this. I am not so sure if I would be able to convince Wheelchair Foundation to stop doing what they are doing, since there is a such a large money interest involved in this situation…
In town, I stopped by Dr. Nyumbi’s office to talk about the survey I had drafted! He really liked it, and was glad that I had taken this opportunity to help make a formal evaluation of the program. There will be quite a bit of work to be done to analyze the data, and will need to solicit some help from KASI and Abdullah to help make a report from the surveys. I hope to publish the findings later online (if appropriate).
I was done for the day, and returned home to hang out with my host family! Christina had spent all day planning her trip to Zanzibar, and she finally got her tickets to go! I am very excited for her.
Ahh… I think I have been eating way too much here.