Wheelchairs for Jobs and Hope



Mario Bollini, via Flickr

Can anyone build a wheelchair? Colin Lowther and Liz Waid look at an organization giving jobs and hope for disabled people in Guatemala.

Transcript


Voice 1 

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Colin Lowther.

Voice 2 

And I’m Liz Waid. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1 

Hugo Andrino loves to play the sport of basketball. He moves quickly across the court. His strong arms throw the orange ball. It goes through the round metal hoop. Andrino plays basketball in his home town of Antigua, Guatemala. Some people say Andrino is one of the best basketball players in Central America. But Hugo Andrino is not like most basketball players. Andrino, and all his teammates, cannot use their legs. Andrino is the leader of the Guatemalan National Wheelchair Basketball Team. He also works for an organization that makes special wheelchairs. Today’s Spotlight is on the Transitions Foundation. This organization provides wheelchairs and much more in Guatemala.

Voice 2 

The World Health Organization says that about 1% of the world's population needs a wheelchair. That is over 65 million people! People use wheelchairs when they cannot walk. They push the wheels of the chair to move themselves forward. People who cannot walk are called disabled people. But people in wheelchairs are able to do many things - including playing sports, like Hugo Andrino.

Voice 1 

Andrino plays basketball every weekend, for fun. But during the week he works at the Transitions Foundation. This is an organization that works with disabled people in Antigua, Guatemala. Alex Galvez is the founder and director of Transitions. Someone shot Galvez with a gun when he was 14 years old. After that, he could no longer feel or use his legs. Galvez had treatments and surgery. He became healthy again. But he had to use a wheelchair.

Voice 2 

Galvez saw that there were many other Guatemalans who also had disabilities. Many of them had gunshot wounds like Galvez. Other people had suffered diseases as children. These diseases left them disabled. Galvez also saw that no one was providing help for them. He told reporter James Rodriguez that mental and physical recovery is very important. But recovery is more difficult in countries without services for people with disabilities. He said,

Voice 3 

“The results of violence are more than physical injuries. They also greatly affect mental health and living conditions both for the survivors and their families. But even with these difficulties, a disability does not mean that life is over.”

Voice 1 

Alex Galvez began Transitions Foundation to help disabled people have better lives. They provide services for disabled people. This includes social activities like the basketball team. Transitions Foundation also provides scholarships for students. Students can use this money to get a university degree, learn English or learn a technical skill.  And Transitions Foundation makes and gives away equipment to help people with disabilities - such as wheelchairs.

Voice 2 

There are few wheelchairs available in Guatemala. And these wheelchairs can be difficult to use in cities like Antigua. There are many rough paths and narrow streets. People must travel over uneven surfaces such as hills and holes. And when traditional wheelchairs break, they often become useless. They are made of many small parts. Local people often do not have the equipment or knowledge to fix their wheelchairs.

Voice 1 

Transitions Foundation produces a wheelchair that solves these problems. This wheelchair was designed by an organization called Whirlwind. Ralf Hotchkiss lost the use of his legs at age 18. He is the main designer of the Whirlwind wheelchair. He explains in an informational video:

Voice 4 

“Normal wheelchairs cannot move over soft ground because the front wheel sinks in. But the Whirlwind has very little problem because of the new front wheels. We discovered these on pushcarts in Zimbabwe. The wheel bends easily, and it rolls over the rocks easily. And it is so wide that it does not sink in the sand and soft ground.”

Voice 2 

The Whirlwind wheelchair is easy to use. It has a strong but simple design. It looks very modern. But there is something else very important about the Whirlwind wheelchair. The Whirlwind is made completely from local parts, such as tubes and metal. This way, if the wheelchair breaks, people can fix it at a local repair place.

Voice 1 

The wheelchairs are also made by local people. This provides business and jobs. Transitions Foundations employs mostly workers who are disabled themselves. Remember the basketball player from the beginning of the program? Hugo Andrino tells MIT student Paul Lazurescu about his job at Transitions Foundation:

Voice 5 

“I am in charge of the workshop. Twelve people work there. I have been workshop manager since the program began in 1997. I enjoy it very much. Of the 12 people in the shop, only two people are not disabled. They can help get things.”

Voice 2 

Workers at Transitions Foundation build and fix wheelchairs. Most of the money for this comes from the Rotary Foundation - an international not for profit organization. Transitions Foundation then gives the wheelchairs to people who really need them. Workers make sure that the wheelchairs fit the exact size and shape of each person. Paulina Atz had the disease polio at age two. Since then, she has not been able to move her legs. Atz told the news organization Al Jazeera:

Voice 6 

“One day I was given a wheelchair. I was so happy that I did not have to be dragged around anymore. And I want to do the same thing for the children.”

Voice 1 

Atz now has a chance to help people, including children, who need wheelchairs. She works at a wheelchair factory in Guatemala. She said:

Voice 6 

“Other places will not give us jobs. So people think that we are not able to work. But, although we are not able to use our legs, we have our hands, eyes and our minds. Nothing is impossible in life!”

Voice 2 

Transitions Foundation provides hope to many people. The workers joke and talk as they make wheelchairs. And every Friday, Hugo Andrino and Alex Galvez play basketball with the Transitions workers. There are still many difficulties for disabled people in Guatemala. But Transitions Foundation helps them discover and develop their skills. As Alex Galvez explains:

Voice 3 

“Surgery and therapy healed my body, but sports and art helped me see a future for myself.”

Voice 1 

The writer of this program was Rena Dam. The producer was Luke Haley. The voices you heard were from the United States and the United Kingdom. All quotes were adapted for this program and voiced by Spotlight. You can listen to this program again, and read it, on the internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called, ‘Wheelchairs for Jobs and Hope.’

Voice 2 

You can also leave your comments on our website. Or you can email us at radio@radioenglish.net. You can also find us on Facebook - just search for spotlightradio. We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Are there organizations that help disabled people in your city or country? How do they help?

Comments


hellokitty's avatar
hellokitty
said on May 15, 2014

I had said ‘I am think that all human is same.’ But, still I had strong prejudice that disabled person can’t work well better than us. However, when I saw this text, I realized it just we didn’t helped them, and they think and work superior than us. I can feel their delight and ardor. I hung my head in shame.

And thanks spotlight !

 

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on May 15, 2014

Hope

Severino Ramos da Silva's avatar
Severino Ramos da Silva
said on November 25, 2015

Dear Collin and Liz Waid:
My name is Severino Ramos and I am from Brasil. I think this matter very important. Here, in my country there is an important organization that is called AACD. This organization offers treatments for many disabled childrens, and adults people that need of one wheelchair or other equipment to move. This important organization receives support from Brazilian System Television (SBT) to keep on.
All the bet,
Severino Ramos

Avatar Spotlight
improve_english
said on December 01, 2015

In my country, Vietnamese engineers designed a smart hat for the disabled who can’t see anything. The hat uses high frequency helping blind people avoid obstacles on their way. When the disabled is near a obstacle, the smart hat’s frequency will touch it and the hat will send a signal for him/her. It doesn’t make the disabled hurt or get injuried. The hat is actually a necessary and important equipment for the blind. Throughout they can have a better life. I think a organization works for the disabled is excellent and should be established in many other countries.

Avatar Spotlight
kenhieuloilam
said on August 10, 2017

When we live in difficulty we know about difficulty in life. When we live in suffering we know about suffering. We live a beautiful good life. We respect beautiful good things. None of us does not experience difficulty. We become mature in difficulty and suffering. We live our lives for beautiful good things. We sacrifice for beautiful good things. Our lives have sadness and joy. We exist in difficulty. We exist in suffering. We find joy in beautiful good things.