Sat | Aug 19, 2017

Wheelchairs galore for the disabled

Published:Tuesday | July 26, 2016 | 7:00 AMChristopher Thomas
Errol Rattray (right) and Matt Andrews (left), of the Errol Rattray Evangelistic Association; and Dave Payerchin (second right), of the Ja Mobility Volunteer Group, present one of 1,100 wheelchairs to May Parchment, during a handing-over ceremony at the Water Lane New Testament Church of God in Montego Bay on Tuesday. Parchment accepted the wheelchair on behalf of Colin Holness, a resident of Lethe, Hanover, who was left crippled by a gunshot wound.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Errol Rattray Evangelistic Association (EREA) has partnered with the United States-based Ja Mobility Volunteer Group to provide wheelchairs for immobile Jamaicans with a grand total of 1,100 wheelchairs.

Last Tuesday, 100 of the 1,100 wheelchairs were handed over to residents of western Jamaica in a ceremony at the Water Lane New Testament Church of God in Montego Bay. The distribution will be resumed tomorrow (Wednesday) when members of the volunteer group head into various communities to make additional donations to selected persons and organisations.

"Over the past four years, we have given out an average of 550 wheelchairs per year to persons who are amputees, stroke victims, and the elderly who cannot move around," said EREA chairman Errol Rattray. "We give to hospitals, infirmaries, and to the disabled community."

"This year, because of the need across the nation, we are giving 1,100 chairs, so the wheelchair distribution is being doubled as of this year," added Rattray.

Matt Andrews, a member of the Ja Mobility Volunteer Group, shared that the group consists of entrepreneurs from various states across America who have united behind the common goal of helping the immobile.

"The group we brought with us here on this trip is a group of entrepreneurs in America from California, Ohio, Florida, and from all over," said Andrews. "It is a group that works together on a number of different business projects back in America, but they wanted to work on something collectively to help the people of Jamaica on something that they knew would be sustainable and would make an impact," said Andrews. "They wanted to not only raise the funds, but also to come and see those funds in action, to meet the people who were going to benefit from the funds."

Ja Mobility has been working tirelessly since 2012 to raise funds to purchase shipping containers, with 550 wheelchairs per container, for distribution across Jamaica. The group works in tandem with the United States-based Free Wheelchair Mission, which provides wheelchairs for needy people globally.

Each container of 550 wheelchairs costs US$45,000 (J$5,697,261.90) to procure. EREA provides a list of recipients throughout the year that includes individuals, hospitals, and infirmaries.

Since the start of this year, the distribution team has delivered over 400 wheelchairs to locations across Jamaica. More deliveries are to be made when the next container of chairs arrives in September.

"Over May, June, and July, we have distributed some 400-plus wheelchairs, and today, and over the next few days, we will be giving away 100, which would make 550 out of this batch," Rattray said. "In September, another 550 will come, which will be given in September, October, and November before Christmas."