Waganda Moses is eighteen years old. He’s the second oldest of eighteen children from a poor family who live in Iganga, a town two hours outside of Uganda’s capital, Kampala.
When he was born, he was perfectly healthy; however, at age two, he contracted malaria.
He was rushed to hospital where doctors administered an injection. Moses had an allergic reaction to the medication, which caused serious swelling. As a result, he had to have surgery. Tragically, the operation failed and Moses was left paralyzed from the waist down. Since then, he was completely reliant on his upper body for movement.
In Uganda, there is still a lot of stigma around disability. Traditional beliefs label people with disabilities as bewitched or cursed, which results in marginalization and discrimination. Moses has experienced this prejudice – throughout his life, people looked down on him, believing he had nothing to contribute to the community. What’s more, limited access to medical care or financial resources mean that few people in Uganda can get mobility devices. To tackle this issue, the Free Wheelchair Mission began an initiative to provide wheelchairs for those most in need. Since 2001, FWM has distributed more than one million wheelchairs.
Their new ambition is to distribute another one million wheelchairs by 2025. To meet this goal, Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM) has partnered with Invacare Europe: Together, for mobility. As part of the project, Invacare Europe is helping FWM raise awareness, generating donations, and sharing knowledge and expertise about product development. With Invacare Europe’s support, FWM aim to distribute wheelchairs to those in need in 93 countries around the world, providing renewed dignity and independence at no cost to the recipient.
A key part of FWM’s mission is to change attitudes about disability. With access to mobility devices, disabled people can transform their identities and show they’re productive members of society, just like anyone else. Moses’ story is a perfect example of how wheelchairs can change lives and attitudes. In 2017, FWM provided Moses with his GEN_2 wheelchair, and since, it has completely changed his life. Not only has his wheelchair given him greater independence, it has allowed him to finish trade school and realise his ambitions.
Now, Moses has started a small business sewing school uniforms for the kids in his community. His business is thriving and he’s even had to hire two additional employees to keep up with demand. However, Moses’ wheelchair hasn’t just changed his life, it’s meant an enormous amount to his family. His mother said that ever since he was a toddler, she’d felt guilty that she couldn’t afford a wheelchair for her son – after all, as a mother, you always want to provide for your children. She said that Moses receiving his wheelchair was a dream come true, as her son now has the freedom and dignity she always wanted for him.
Invacare Europe are working with Free Wheelchair Mission to provide wheelchairs for thousands more people like Moses. For more information on the project, read the complete press release here.
If you would like to read more articles like this, such as; “Tam’s Story”, be sure to check out the rest of Invacare’s Passionate People’s blog site.