Our Wheelchair programme began many years ago when Ronan and Seán two highly skilled and hard working volunteers would visit Belarus annually, often twice a year and even work during the year while at home in Ireland on wheelchairs for the children in Belarus. It was a subsection of our Medical Programme that has evolved into one of the biggest parts of the ongoing work done by Burren Chernobyl Project.
Read on for more information about the programme and how one volunteer has changed the lives of so many children and young people with disabilities in Belarus.
While well fitted, specialised, comfortable wheelchairs are not available to all children in Belarus who need them (not nearly enough!) they also should not be considered a luxury. They are a necessity. They are vital for the health and well being of the wheelchair user. Correct wheelchair positioning is vital, if the chair is too tight it can hurt your hips, cause the skin to breakdown or pinch. If it’s too wide you could slip or slump which can lead to bad posture which in turn can cause back pain and compression of internal organs. There are so many more variables to consider to avoid twisting of feet, stress on joints, pressure sores and much more. Many of the cases Seán deals with are very complex and so require very specific and tricky adjustments.
Seán pretty much single handedly creates custom built wheelchairs to suit each specific case from scratch. Whether the chair is bought, or donated every single one is measured and built to that person's shape and needs. He alters and builds seating systems bringing specialised foam, brackets, straps etc with him and he buys the plywood in Belarus. Some of the Cherven and community cases also require special splints, footwear and therapy programmes.
Seán’s trips are always jam packed. With scores of people to see to he really has no time to spare. On his most recent trip to Belarus however, just two weeks ago there were three very important cases, the three chairs were sent out on the most recent truck of humanitarian aid sent in February and Seán was delivering them to three very special children.
Seán, from the bottom of our hearts, go raibh míle maith agat!
Большое спасибо Шон, наш герой!