New Wheels Give New Lease on Life

  • 10 March 2011

Life is different now for "Riqui," one of more than 300,000 people around the world who has received a wheelchair from LDS Charities since 2001.

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  • Since 2001, the Church has given more than 300,000 wheelchairs to individuals in 90 countries.

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In the Dominican Republic, a person with physical disabilities without a wheelchair has a hard time integrating into society and feeling like a part of the community, said Jose “Riqui” Manual Perez. Riqui lost the use of his legs at eight months old when he contracted polio.

“Life was very uncomfortable,” he said. “I never went out. I never saw the street. I didn’t have friends. After I received my first wheelchair, doors opened to me. I began to make friends, got my first job, and then formed a family.”

Riqui supports his family of six through his job with ASODIFIMO, an organization that promotes the integration of people with physical and motor disabilities into Dominican Republic society. 

“The pathways here aren’t very accessible. The roads are very bad,” said Riqui, whose 16-kilometer round trip to work was difficult to make each day.

 

“It’s very hard on the wheelchair,” Rique said as he maneuvered his wheelchair—seat torn from wear, one wheel missing—along the rutted pathway between people’s dwellings. “There isn’t really an average time that a wheelchair lasts, but it doesn’t last very long.”

That changed when he received a Roughrider wheelchair from LDS Charities. 

Riding in the chair for the first time, Riqui couldn’t believe it was his. Now, he said, opportunities are open before him. 

Where once he couldn’t accompany his children to the park, now he can. The commute to work is now easier, and he plans to continue his studies and pursue an academic degree that will allow him to better provide for his family.

“It’s a dream that I have,” Riqui said. “I want to give [my family] my very best.”

Since 2001 The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has donated more than 300,000 wheelchairs to individuals in nearly 100 countries.

Learn more about this story and about LDS Charities’ efforts here.