Steven Chandler, Acting British High Commissioner in Fiji, called on the international aid community to remember disabled people in developing countries as he presided over the delivery of a container load of children’s physiotherapy equipment donated by PhysioNet and including dozens of wheelchairs refurbished by offenders at HMP Garth.
Speaking to the Spinal Injuries Association of Fiji, the Commissioner supported PhysioNet’s work to encourage the NHS to pass on more of their redundant wheelchairs. He recalled the triumph of Fiji bringing home the Pacific’s first ever Olympic medal at the 2012 London games. He said “Iliesa Delana’s triumph in the Paralympics men’s high jump is an inspiration to us all.
“But for every medal-winning para athlete, there are millions more in the world who are often hidden from view and forgotten. The British Minister for International Development Lynn Featherstone wrote recently that: “the awful truth is the aid community has also in large part forgotten disabled people. I do not know whether it is because it is too hard or other priorities win the day. But we all must do as we would be done by. Over one billion people
– 15% of the global population – have a disability and there is a direct link between disability and poverty. Indeed, disability has a greater impact on access to education than gender or household economic status”.
PhysioNet is one of Margaret Carey Foundation’s charity partners. It was set up in 2005 after Peter Thompson’s visit to a children’s home in Sarajevo, in Bosnia Herzegovina in 2004 where he was asked if he could help find special needs equipment for the children there. Since then, the PhysioNet team of volunteers have helped provide physiotherapy equipment to disabled children in Eastern & Central Europe and in developing countries round the world.
PhysioNet has a close working relationship with Margaret Carey Foundation, taking almost all the 296 wheelchairs refurbished by prisoners at HMP Garth over the past three years and delivering them to people in need in Fiji, Democratic Republic of Congo, Samoa, India and South Africa.