On August 3, 2015, LDS Charities partnered with the Laotian Ministry of Health and the Centre of Medical Rehabilitation (CMR) to provide wheelchair assembly training to disabled people. The CMR is an organization that helps those with disabilities become active participants in their communities. The purpose of the wheelchair workshop, which was held in Vientiane, the capital city of Laos, was to increase that participation in the community and create work opportunities.
The wheelchairs for the workshop were imported unassembled, and local workers were employed in assembling them. Workshop leaders taught participants the importance of teamwork in solving problems; as a team, the participants spent several hours putting the first wheelchair together, but by the end of the training, participants were able to assemble 10 in one day. At the end of the wheelchair workshop, the participants took part in closing ceremonies and the CMR director, Dr. Khamphet Manivong, awarded each participant a certificate of completion for the training they received.
LDS Charities and trained CMR staff selected recipients to receive the newly assembled wheelchairs, with criteria including financial need, a prescription from a medical practitioner, a commitment to maintain the wheelchair, and the impact a wheelchair would have on the client’s quality of life. LDS Charities and CMR staff sent the wheelchairs to rehabilitation centers in and around Vientiane, where staff fitted the wheelchairs to the selected recipients.
Val Bush, a representative of LDS Charities, recently visited a number of wheelchair recipients in their homes and at a vocational school for disabled people in Vientiane. Bush said of his experience, “It is uplifting to see the improvement these wheelchairs made in the lives of the recipients as well as the caregivers. They have become more independent, more productive, happier, and very grateful. This is the ultimate end of the wheelchair process—the benefit to people who need the assistive devices to enhance their lives and lift their spirits where little help was available before.”