Crutches 4 Africa - EDI International Volunteer Effort
Dan Fanning - EDI, Ltd. Data Center Practice
Several EDI employees recently volunteered their time for “Crutches 4 Africa” (C4A) to ready the next container shipment to Africa. Crutches 4 Africa, founded in 2005 by David Talbot, provides mobility devices (MDs) – crutches, canes, walkers, wheelchairs - to countries in Africa and around the world.
While working in Uganda on a documentary film in 2005, Talbot (a polio survivor himself, using crutches today) observed people using tree limbs, roughhewn crutches, and often, nothing at all, pulling themselves along the ground using their hands and arms for locomotion. Upon seeing this, Talbot made the realization that crutches, canes, walkers, and wheelchairs exist in such abundance in developed countries that they are frequently considered a nuisance when no longer needed. Many are often hauled away to landfills. The connection was simple for him - collect here, distribute there. Thus, the idea for Crutches 4 Africa was born.
Today, C4A reaches out into any and every willing community for assistance in collection of MDs. How is this done? "Simply", Talbot says. “We collect mobility devices that people aren’t using anymore, those crutches in the garage or a wheelchair parked in a spare room at a nursing home, and when we have enough to fill a 40 foot container, we ship them to pre-organized partners in recipient countries where they are distributed for free”. They also continue their search for consistent funding to aid in all aspects of this project, especially shipping. “At the other end (Africa), we have great demand for every MD collected and many willing and established partners to assist with distribution.”
Talbot’s initial goal was to deliver 1 million MDs to Africa. To date, C4A has delivered over 35,000 MDs to 14 countries in Africa, as well as 9 other countries around the world. How can you help Crutches for Africa reach their goal?
In order for MDs to reach the hands of mobility challenged people in developing countries, Crutches 4 Africa needs two things to fulfill the initial phase of this project: donated MDs and $3 per unit to cover shipping.
Over the last few years, Dan Fanning – with EDI’s Data Center Practice, has been collecting MDs for C4A. Recently recruited by Dan, Jeremy Gilbertson – also with EDI’s Data Center Practice, helped Dan unpack pallets of crutches, match up pairs, remove broken parts, and bundle them for shipment to Africa.
Take a look at the pictures of Dan’s and Jeremy’s work. This pile of crutches is only 20 percent of one container load! And, if you think this is impressive, just imagine the people who will soon be lined up to receive them!
Collecting crutches and other MDs is easy. Look through your own closets, keep your eyes out for them at flea markets and in thrift stores. Many will give them to you for free when you tell them about Crutches 4 Africa! Start a group collecting – maybe your children need a school project. Or your Sunday School class.
Once you have a stash ready, contact C4A at firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a pick-up. It’s that simple.
For more information on Crutches 4 Africa, click here.