Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Rolling in the Right Direction

Here in Nairobi, I am documenting Mario Bollini, a rising junior at MIT, who designed a new version of an existing tricycle for the physically disabled to make transportation easier and safer. We come to the base of the Association for the Physically Disabled of Kenya every day, getting up at 6:30am, leaving the campground at 7am, getting to the site at 8am, and working until about 5pm. The work being done here is very mechanical; they build, design, and test existing and prototypes of new tricycles. There is not as much interaction in the workshop with the population he is helping, but occasionally some of the clients will come to test out the new designs. Aside from the tricycle, I got permission to go into the rehab clinic to take photographs with the permission of the patient, which was an amazing experience and deserves an entry of its own. I’ve been able to help test the prototypes, building up my arms, and giving suggestions on improvements to the design. My interviews with the staff are going extremely well, as they both have a lot of positive feedback and ideas for future improvement.

The tricycles cost $200 in American dollars, but Safaricom, the most successful company (a cell phone company) in Kenya, buys them and donates them to the physically disabled. They are also given a loan to purchase a phone which they can use to bring in an income, and then they have to pay for their minutes. The tricycles donated by Safaricom are painted their signature lime green color and has advertisements on a big umbrella that shades the rider from the sun. The recipients seem overjoyed to get this vehicle which allows them to transport themselves further distances more safely than via a wheelchair (most raggedy and old from wear and tear – they were all donated used). Not only the tricycles, but in fact the entire association is a great sector of the government. It empowers the disabled by producing new devices, treating them in a rehabilitation clinic, meeting those that can’t reach the clinic through a mobile clinic, custom-making braces and shoes to help people walk, and giving out crutches. I have seen more physically disabled people in the past couple of days than I have ever seen in a lifetime. Some of them have always been disabled as a result from a disease such as polio, and others have become disabled due to accidents or developed disease. Many of the staff are physically disabled themselves which really adds to the empowering and I think is a huge reassurement and hope for those that come to be treated or helped.

1 comment:

Rodrigo said...

Oi, achei teu blog pelo google tá bem interessante gostei desse post. Quando der dá uma passada pelo meu blog, é sobre camisetas personalizadas, mostra passo a passo como criar uma camiseta personalizada bem maneira. Se você quiser linkar meu blog no seu eu ficaria agradecido, até mais e sucesso. (If you speak English can see the version in English of the Camiseta Personalizada. If he will be possible add my blog in your blogroll I thankful, bye friend).