In collaboration with their local partners, Walkabout will establish a number of centers around the world to provide mobility devices, rehabilitation services and vocational training to adults and children with physical disabilities, with the hope that they will acquire the tools needed to fully integrate into their communities.
Walkabouts aim is to ensure that their wheelchair recipients and their families have access to services which will allow their full integration into the community. To achieve this goal, Walkabout has targeted three areas key to its success: training, rehabilitation and education in three strategic global locations where they have strong local partnerships and the need is overwhelming: Haiti, Kenya and India.
Walkabout Foundation commits to the establishment of three Walkabout Rehabilitation Centers in Haiti, Kenya and India. At their very core, these three centers will focus on tackling the problems PWDs face in the developing world. These Walkabout Centers will not only be rehabilitation centers, but will also serve as havens for social and economic empowerment, by providing wheelchair riders with vocational training and a community hub for educational and personal development. In this way, Walkabout will also attack the disgraceful stigma attached to disability in the developing world and remove the obstacles facing PWDs to live a meaningful life.
In Kenya, Walkabout will specifically target these mothers to be the beneficiaries of their day care services which will provide them with both occupational therapy for their child and critical relief by allowing them the opportunity to go to work and provide for their families. They plan to expand this effort throughout all their rehabilitation centers so that mothers of children with disabilities can get the support and training they need and then spread this knowledge throughout their local community.
Walkabout does not want to simply give a person a wheelchair. They want to be a part of that person's growth and development, to support their families in better caring for them, and to give them the tools necessary to become active members in their community. Walkabout also wants to ensure their wheelchair recipients can benefit from new research developments such as transcutaneous stimulation, which is a less expensive technique used to treat people with SCIs that can be made available and accessible to patients in the developing world.
Walkabout has holistic expertise in the issues surrounding disability, as well as an extensive network in the field, securing significant sustainable resources at their disposal. They now have selected 3 trusted local partners who share their rounded vision. Under Walkabouts guidance these experienced partners will be responsible for the establishment and day to day operation of the centers. Each partner organization specializes in disability and has in their own right extensive knowledge, expertise and crucial networks in their respective community.
The intended term of the commitment is 3 years and within that time period each rehabilitation center has a different focus geared towards the needs of the area and partner organization. As such, each has its own pre-specified deliverables in accordance with a determined timeline.
The Haiti Rehabilitation Center will be a sophisticated SCI in-and-out patient unit and gym located on the grounds of Partners in Healths Hopital Universitaire de Mirebalais (University Hospital) in the Central Plateau region. It is the most sizeable project as it requires building an extension on the existing hospital. The centers in Kenya and India already have the necessary infrastructure in place, but will require resources such as staff and equipment.
The Kenya Centre will be a day care center for children with disabilities where they will receive daily care and therapy at a critical stage in their development with the aim of integrating them into education after 1-2 years. They will also run training programs for parents of children with disabilities.
The India Center will be the first and only rehabilitation center on a coastline of 2,000 kilometers focused on providing community outreach rehabilitation, peer counselling and inpatient services.
The implementation steps for each country are as follows:
February: Procure equipment and statutory requirements in Kenya and India
April: Recruit and train staff in Kenya and India
June: Complete plans for the new building in Haiti and appoint Project Manager to oversee development
July: Initiate day care services for children in Kenya
September: Initiate and establish outpatient rehabilitation services in the community in India
November: Run first training program for parents and guardians in Kenya
December: Initiate inpatient services in India
January: Build infrastructure and procure all necessary equipment for the SCI unit and gym in Haiti,
program continuation in Kenya and India
January: Recruit staff and roll out SCI training and community reintegration programs in Haiti, program continuation in Kenya and India
To ensure the execution stages are observed, each organization will abide by a strict reporting format on a quarterly basis.
Paralysis affects millions of people worldwide and can lead to a lack of sensation or movement in ones body resulting in reliance on a wheelchair. While in many countries wheelchairs are readily accessible, this is not the case in the developing world. According to the World Health Organization, there are 100 million people in the world in need of a wheelchair, 65 million of which cannot afford one. In the United States alone, someone is spinal cord injured every 45 minutes; in India, every 15 minutes. We are all one degree of separation away from paralysis.
Without an appropriately fitted wheelchair and access to rehabilitation, these individuals have little chance of recovery, dramatically reducing their life expectancy and leaving them almost no chance of returning to the workforce, being active members of the community and living a normal life. Single mothers are often the sole and primary care givers, which leaves them stuck with the desperate choice of looking after their disabled child or earning a living.
These issues are compounded by ingrained negative attitudes towards People with Disabilities (PWDs); they are routinely viewed as burdens. These individuals are denied access to their most basic needs which exasperates the existing lack of financial resources and creates a vicious cycle of poverty.
Walkabout has made it their mission to improve the quality of life for PWDs through the provision of wheelchairs and rehabilitation. Providing people with the right wheelchair for their environment is the catalyst for changing their lives. Walkabout believes that combining this with rehabilitation and educational programs will prove revolutionary in peoples lives and transform entire. This 3-pronged approach means that they tackle the issue from all angles, ensuring that they create a sustainable model that provides short as well as long term solutions.
Walkabout has raised 42% of the necessary funding but requires additional funds to reach the target amounts to fully implement the commitment, for which there is a fundraising strategy detailed below. They welcome interest from additional partners to financially support their project and helping them achieve scale.
In addition, Walkabout is seeking to leverage the expertise, resources, experience and knowledge of CGI members already involved in humanitarian efforts in Haiti, Kenya, or India. Walkabout would be keen to open dialogue with other non-profits or NGOs that can serve in an advisory role or that may have access to local physiotherapists, physicians, therapists, and/or rehabilitation specialists focused on disability.
Finally, any advice about best practices from CGI members who have direct experience in working in the target countries would also be welcome, for example, but not limited to logistic issues, hiring of personnel and infrastructure.
Walkabout will utilize their financial resources, social network, and experience, and will assign members of their staff to offer guidance and monitor each program. Clearly defined financial resources will be provided alongside clear direction in implementation. Each partner organization is already familiar with the Walkabout team, their style and work ethic, and therefore the focus will be on content, i.e. the type of rehabilitation services offered and vocational training provided within the context of the commitment.
Furthermore, Walkabout will make use of their various media relationships and can assure press coverage once up and running. They also have several local donors interested in supporting the centers establishment.
In conjunction with the above resources, Walkabout has also identified local independent experts in the field. The function of these unofficial team members is twofold: they will serve as mentors to the partner organizations but will also be a source of monitoring and evaluation. This will provide Walkabout with a fair and honest assessment of the progress of the commitment and ensure sustainable outcomes.