News Release

Church of Jesus Christ Donates 300 Wheelchairs in Sierra Leone

Provides training for recipients and local technicians and physiotherapists

On 1 February 2024, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints distributed 300 wheelchairs, 100 sets of crutches, and 100 blind canes to individuals with physical disabilities in Freetown, Sierra Leone. During the donation ceremony, local technicians and physiotherapy students received certificates after attending the four-day Basic Level Wheelchair training provided by the Church.

The training was held at the Pipeline Stake Center of the Church from 29 January to 1 February and was done in collaboration with the National Physical Rehabilitation Program Center, led by Dr Ismaila Kebbie. The physiotherapist trainees came from the Tonkolili District College of Health Sciences.

The donation and training were led by Steve and Karen Teerlink from Church Humanitarian Services.  They were assisted by Richard Goodard, a volunteer technician, and Misha Bradford, volunteer physical therapist from the United States.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated over 550,000 wheelchairs in 128 countries.  In conjunction with volunteers and local partners the Church works to identify people in need, provide training for local medical personnel, and train recipients on proper usage and maintenance of the wheelchairs.  The goal is to create long-term self-reliance and help communities thrive by helping people face their challenges.

Representing the Church at the donation ceremony was Elder Kenneth Pambu, Area Seventy for the Church in Sierra Leone.  Elder Pambu handed out the certificates to the recipients and trainees.

The event was attended by Dr Santge Sesay, the Director of Communicable Diseases for The Ministry of Health and Sanitation in Sierra Leone, who emphasized the importance of understanding the needs of individuals with disabilities and having empathy when working with patients.  He commended the Church for using their time and resources to improve the lives of this vulnerable population.

Representing the World Health Organization at the event was Reynold Senes. “Receiving the wheelchairs is a step towards closing the gap in the country's economic development.”

Dr. Lebbie expressed his happiness that the first cohort of newly graduated physiotherapists were exposed to this wheelchair training. “This is a great step towards sustainable rehabilitation and assistive technology service delivery in Sierra Leone.  We will see the benefits of the work done here for years to come.”

One of the patients who received a wheelchair shared her appreciation. “I became disabled at the age of three after receiving a wrong vaccination,” she said.  “Without a wheelchair, all I could do was crawl around.  This is a great blessing to me.”

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