LDS Charities partnered with the Ministry of Health in Zambia to provide training to physiotherapists and wheelchair technicians from hospitals throughout Lusaka. LDS volunteers conducted the training using guidelines given by the World Health Organization. They taught the physiotherapists how to assess individuals’ needs, write prescriptions for the appropriate wheelchair, fit the wheelchairs, and instruct recipients on proper maintenance and usage. The technicians were taught how to assemble, maintain, and repair wheelchairs and how to instruct users about proper maintenance. The project also included a donation of wheelchairs, crutches, and walkers.
One attendee of the training was Francis Mongo, an orthopedic technician at Kasama General Hospital. His position involves simple fracture management and the production of artificial limbs, splints, crutches, and microcellular shoes. He wrote, “I do what I do because of my passion for persons with disabilities in dire need of technical mobility aids.”
After attending the wheelchair training in Lusaka, Francis Mongo was eager to put his new skills to use. While waiting for the Ministry of Health’s shipment of new wheelchairs, Francis began repairing old wheelchairs that had collected outside his clinic. He wanted to fix the old, broken wheelchairs so that even more individuals in need could have the mobility they needed so much. With his new training in wheelchair assessment, assembly, and servicing, Francis was able to help those in need in a new and powerful way.
In the closing ceremony of the training, Francis shared that he, as well as others like him, had been “yearning for an opportunity” to learn about wheelchair maintenance for a long time. He felt that the training was an excellent experience with quality instruction and that the trainers were professional, friendly, and helpful. Francis hopes that he will soon have the opportunity for another training in advanced wheelchair skills to build on the knowledge he has gained.
The wheelchair training done in Lusaka, Zambia, has helped many individuals like Francis increase their ability to assemble, maintain, and repair wheelchairs, making the program a far-reaching model that has the ability to help many people in need of properly fitting and functioning wheelchairs.