The Rajanagarindra Institute of Child Development (RICD) hospital is located just outside the city of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. In 2000 RICD launched the Wheelchair Project to donate wheelchairs and other mobility aids to people who cannot afford them. The project faced a serious challenge however, as staff depended on the availability of hospital vehicles to distribute wheelchairs. Moreover, none of the hospital vehicles were adapted for the task of delivering and repairing wheelchairs.
In 2011 a couple from Taiwan provided Philanthropy Connections with the funds to purchase a van that was modified into a mobile work unit for the RICD Wheelchair Project. The van has helped to dramatically increase the number of wheelchairs delivered throughout Thailand, parts of Laos, Burma and Malaysia.
Very often people with mobility impairments lead isolated lives with reduced opportunities to participate in community life. This is especially true in disadvantaged communities where families have neither the time nor the means to offer assistance.
The RICD Wheelchair Project was determined to improve the quality of life for these people but struggled with distribution of wheelchairs and other aids due to two challenges. The first was the limited availability of hospital vehicles. The second was a need for a mobile work unit adapted to fit the needs of the project.
Goals and Results
In 2011 Roger and Vivid Lee made a donation to Philanthropy Connections to purchase a van especially adapted for the RICD Wheelchair Project. With that in mind, the van was equipped with improved suspension, a generator to provide lighting for work at night if there is no electricity in the village and custom-tailored cupboards for tools and spare parts.
In addition to transporting equipment and tools, the van also helps to transport teams of professional volunteers to provide wheelchair maintenance, medical support and lead workshops on the use of wheelchairs and the acceptance of disabled people in the community.
Thanks to the generous support of the Lees, the RICD Wheelchair Project is able to reach more people in need and deliver up to 2000 wheelchairs and mobility aids to remote areas each year.