Free Wheelchair Mission is a humanitarian, faith-based, nonprofit organization that provides wheelchairs free of charge to people with disabilities who are living in poverty in developing nations. Working in creative partnership with likeminded people, FWM has sent wheelchairs to hundreds of thousands of people around the world, delivering not only the gift of mobility, but also dignity, independence, and hope!!
Their mission is to provide the transforming gift of mobility to the physically disabled poor throughout the world, as motivated by Jesus Christ.
Many years ago on vacation in Morocco, a young engineer and inventor from southern California witnessed the agonized plight of a disabled woman struggling to drag herself across a busy thoroughfare. Unable to forget the scene, Don Schoendorfer would eventually leave a successful career in the biomedical field and invent a basic, inexpensive, and durable wheelchair.
His unique design became the cornerstone of Free Wheelchair Mission, the nonprofit organization he founded in 2001 to serve people with disabilities in the developing world.
For over 100 million people living in under served regions of the world, a wheelchair is either inaccessible or unaffordable. They must crawl on the ground, or wait to be carried to meet their basic needs. Subjected to danger and disease, struggling with isolation and hopelessness, their options are few and the future holds little opportunity for advancement. Education, employment, access–without mobility, these essential components of an empowered life can remain out of reach.
Designed for use in the rugged terrain of rural and under resourced areas, the wheelchairs combine the simplicity of a resin lawn chair with the strength of a custom steel frame and sturdy mountain bike tires. They cost just $77.91 to manufacture and deliver and are provided at absolutely no cost to the recipient. Free Wheelchair Mission is a humanitarian, faith-based, nonprofit organization that provides wheelchairs at no cost to people with disabilities living in developing nations. In collaboration with a network of like-minded partners,
FWM has sent more than 800,000 wheelchairs to people in 91 countries, providing dignity, independence and hope through the gift of mobility.
The need for wheelchairs in our world is staggering. In developing nations where poverty pervades, it is estimated that 100 million people are in dire need of a wheelchair, yet lack the resources to obtain one. Already suffering from the pain, isolation and indignity of a physical disability, many of these people must endure further burdens, many forced to live on the ground or wait to be carried to meet their most basic of needs.
Poverty, disease, malnutrition, armed conflict, and lack of proper medical care are all major causes of disability in the developing world. Diseases eradicated in the developed world years ago are still prevalent elsewhere. Conflict is another contributing factor both in places where conflict is active and where the remnants (land mines undetonated bombs, IEDs) are left behind. Poverty, however, is the biggest issue. Without money to seek medical attention, simple injuries like broken bones that would be simple to fix in developed countries, go untreated. Birth defects tend to be more common and home child delivery is more frequent which can have more complications during childbirth. Factors like access to clean water and a steady, nutritious diet also play a role.
Our wheelchairs are simple, cost-effective, and highly functional. They are designed with resources in mind, with the goal of providing the transforming gift of mobility to as many people as possible while still maintaining a standard of excellence. We partner with like-minded organizations to reach some of the most remote regions on the planet. And we do it for an astonishingly reasonable cost.
Below is a special “thank you” to St. Thomas Aquinas for donating 98 wheelchairs from the proceeds of the benefit concert held on January 29, 2017.
Here are highlights from the benefit concert…