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Better Mobility for Kids with Wheelchair Works for Haiti

By eanderson

December 21, 2018

Ordinarily, REquipment serves Massachusetts. We provide donated, refurbished durable medical equipment to individuals with disabilities statewide at no charge. When requests come from beyond Massachusetts, our policy is to make equipment available that has remained listed in our inventory for 90 days (occasionally we provide DME for national disaster relief efforts, too). This year we were delighted to see three of our wheelchairs take a very special trip: to clinics for children in Port Au Prince, Haiti.

The partnership began in 2017 when we were contacted by Mary Jo Wagner, an OT who has worked for decades in Massachusetts helping to fit individuals with appropriate durable medical equipment. Mary Jo was familiar with our REquipment program and called to ask if she could request devices from our inventory on behalf of specific children in Haiti who needed it. She explained that twice a year, she and three colleagues visit two residential programs, one having a school, for children with disabilities. Their volunteer effort–Wheelchair Works for Haiti–provides donated wheelchairs, specialized seating, and their considerable expertise with fitting and positioning. Haiti has never fully recovered from an earthquake eight years ago and has been hit hard by tropical storms since. Many of the students attending these programs have lost their parents.

Children living in these residences often lack basic or properly fitting wheelchairs and other durable medical equipment. In 2017 we were able to provide two wheelchairs. This year REquipment helped three children with wheelchairs appropriate in size and features for their unique needs. We also contributed to shipping expenses using funds from our Christopher and Dana Reeve Quality of Life grant.

Below is the letter of thanks we received from Mary Jo Wagner and her colleague Merry Kaulbach.  As you can see from the children’s smiles, these chairs are greatly appreciated. Thank you, Mary Jo and Merry, for this opportunity to make a difference in the lives of these Haitian children. And thank you to our donors for helping us develop an inventory that can reach beyond our state’s borders!

Wheelchair Works for Haiti logo shows joyous painted wheelchair user icon

Dear REquipment Program,

We would like to thank you for your support of our Haiti wheelchair clinics with the donation of wheelchairs.

Your donated equipment was packed and shipped to Haiti in time for our arrival November 12, 2018. The wheelchair clinics took place in two locations in Port Au Prince: Zanmi Beni and St Vincent’s Center. Luckily for us, they are less than a ½ mile apart. We serviced over 25 people this trip.

All but one child already had a wheelchair. However, none fit properly because their wheelchairs were not designed for children with cerebral palsy. With the appropriate donated wheelchairs, we customized the seating systems to accommodate their dimensions, body shape, and motor skills. Now Tommy has a wheelchair that fits his body.

A Haitian boy seated in a wheelchair with head support smiling.

Naphtalie will be receiving art lessons on Zanmi Beni campus with better body support to use her hands.

A teenage girl seated in a wheelchair while a technician kneels beside her working on her equipment.

Doreston’s wheelchair tilts back with a headrest and has a custom back to hold his trunk in alignment. He now sits up straight! He was able to attend the International Disability Day Celebration on St. Vincent’s Campus.

Left: a young man in an ill-fitting chair. Right: the same young man upright with footrests and head support, smiling.
Doreston before (left) and after (right) our wheelchair clinic.

Thank you for your support REquipment. Follow us on Facebook:
Wheelchair Works for Haiti

Please feel free to contact us to offer support, answer questions, make connections, etc.
We also accept fabric donations for a dressmaker in Haiti as well as summer clothes for children and adults. These are used as packaging!!!


Mary Jo Wagner, OT
Merry Kaulbach, OT