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Submitted by Caron Sprake

Caron SprakeI think this is a lovely story of the kindness and generosity of strangers for strangers and some tenacity on my part!

On February 27th, 2013, I received an email from someone called Veronicah asking for help providing a wheelchair for an elderly relative, Rachel.

I had a feeling this had not come from the UK and replied asking for more details; I discovered it had come from the remote village of Mbooni, Kenya.

Veronicah is 47 and lives in Mbooni. Not only does she help look after the elderly in the village, she also looks after some of the children, many of whom have lost their fathers. Many of the children don’t attend school, and some don’t have enough food.

Veronicah, a widow, has brought up her two children alone after her husband was killed in a road accident. She is a very caring and compassionate woman, and I was determined to help her.

Most busy people would have decided this was an impossible challenge; however, I became determined to meet it.

Rachel is 86, a fantastic age for an African woman.

[/media-credit]Rachel is 86, a fantastic age for an African woman.

I contacted EVERY organization she could think of to help with this request: the Red Cross, the UN, the World Health Organization, the Rotary Club, The Buddhist Temple of Nairobi, the Wheelchair Association, and Richard Brandson, the Foreign Consulate for Nairobi, to name just a few.

For a long time, I had no response at all.

Finally I had a response from the Orthopedic Services Manager for the Nairobi branch of the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya. They very kindly offered to donate a wheelchair; the only difficulty was they insisted that the recipient had to travel to be fitted for it on two occasions. This would involve a round trip of 260 km each time and with little transport available apart from the Matatu, local bus. This was impossible for an elderly, infirm woman.

Feeling dejected, I emailed Veronicah. We were delighted to have had the offer, but it seemed that it was impossible to take it due to logistics. I told her not to give up; somehow, I would resolve this.

I thought laterally and had the brain wave that the easiest form of transport would be . . . helicopter!

So, I emailed all the helicopter charter companies in East Africa and had one reply.

Richard Leach from Hybrid Solutions emailed me, explaining that my request would cost up to £3,000 in flying time and that it would be cheaper for them to buy a wheelchair in the UK and fly it out to Nairobi from their UK arm.

I was amazed and delighted at this very generous offer of help and said I would see if she could find a UK distributor to contribute a wheelchair as Richard was prepared to organize and fund the air transportation.

I set about emailing numerous companies throughout the UK and the same day received an offer from Iain McLarty, Director of Great Range Mobility, in Berwick upon Tweed, Northumberland.

I also decided, whilst I had the offer of transportation, to purchase a second wheelchair from Iain for the elderly of Mbooni; they arrived at Wilson Airport in Nairobi during the first week of June and spent almost a week in customs.

They were given to Veronicah by Richard, who flew them out to Nairobi, and were taken to the village for Veronicah by the Matatu (local bus). I am very grateful to Veronicah as she stayed in Nairobi, at her own expense, to wait for the wheelchairs.

Many thanks also to Norah Keitany who is the Orthopedics Manager for the Nairobi branch of the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya. The Rotary club of Nairobi also kindly offered funds towards transport costs. Rachel received the chair from Iain, and the one I donated went to Sarah, another elderly woman in need of one in the village.

Learn More:

Visit Caron Sprake’s Website http://www.caroncares.co.uk or to see more pictures of Rachel visit  http://www.caroncares.co.uk/wheelchairs-by-wings/.

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