WNWP works in partnership with a nonprofit organization based in Nicaragua called Familias Especiales. Familias Especiales (Special Families) provides a variety of social, health and educational services to handicapped children and their families in Matagalpa and the surrounding barrios. The Wisconsin/Nicaragua Wheelchair Project has worked hand-in-hand with Sister Rebecca (Co-Founder and Coordinator of Special Families) and Familias Especiales in the creation, development and ongoing support of the wheelchair workshop in Matagalpa. The containers that are sent from Madison have allowed for the establishment and maintenance of a fully equipped and staffed wheelchair workshop in Matagalpa, Nicaragua – complete with the tools, spare parts, equipment and all the ingredients necessary to provide for year round distribution and repair of wheelchairs. This collaborative effort provides handicapped children and adults in Matagalpa, Nicaragua and the surrounding barrios with wheelchairs and other mobility equipment as needed. Wheelchairs are provided at no cost to the recipient; however a voluntary donation can be given. Each recipient and/or their family are provided with detailed instructions in the use and care the wheelchair. Repair services and trade-ins, which are especially important as children grow, are also available at no cost. Chairs are individually fitted and adapted to the child, all with an eye to proper seating and positioning, and the prevention of injury including pressure-sores.
Entering its 11th year, the wheelchair project can boast the following:
The distribution of wheelchairs and other mobility equipment to handicapped children and adults in Nicaragua is on-going throughout the year, and The Wisconsin/Nicaragua Wheelchair Project provides the necessary supplies and equipment to enable these accomplishments.
- A total of over 1100 wheelchairs distributed to needy people in Nicaragua.
- A fully equipped and staffed wheelchair workshop in Matagalpa, Nicaragua - complete with tools, spare parts, equipment and all the ingredients necessary to adapt and/or repair wheelchairs.
- A trained staff of wheelchair repair persons, with the requisite skills and expertise to repair and refurbish wheelchairs.
- A trained staff of seating technicians, able to measure individuals to be fitted to a wheelchair, choose the most appropriate chair, and modify that chair to best fit the physical needs of the recipient, all with an eye to proper seating, and positioning, and prevention of injury (including prevention of pressure-sores).
- A well-established communication network which is widening the area served - as people are coming from all parts of Nicaragua to obtain the services of the workshop in Matagalpa.
- Employment of handicapped and non-handicapped people in a setting that provides dignity; emotionally, physically, and intellectually challenging work; and the acquisition of valuable technical skills. Within the employment setting there are opportunities for advancement and salary increase.