Wheelchairs for Nigeria

March 2016 Newsletter

Wheelchair Shop Builds Furniture for Deaf School

Our December 2015 newsletter told of the shocking discovery of the 430 deaf students at the Plateau State School for Deaf, living in the most abject poverty and government neglect we had ever seen. We were able to install a diesel generator and provide the first electricity they had had in 6 years. Having light from 7 to 10 each evening now allows the students to do their homework, and more importantly to be able to communicate with each other. You can't do sign language in the dark! From living in a silent and isolated world, the students are now watching 1 hour of national news each evening (signed by the staff) on the wide-screen TVs we installed in each of the 4 hostels.

We discovered there was not one stick of furniture in the dining hall, that most of the children were sleeping on the floor and that some of the classrooms had no desks. So for 5 weeks our shop stopped making wheelchairs and turned their metal-working skills into building steel furniture. They made 35 large steel tables and 70 benches for the dining hall, 150 bunk beds to get 300 children off the floor, 12 hospital beds for the infirmary and 45 school desks (each seating 3 students).

Furniture Dedication

On March 7th all the new steel furniture was dedicated in a large ceremony. The deputy governor was present, 12 of the 18 Plateau State commissioners and many other officials, as well as parents. Two TV stations covered the event, as well as several radio stations and newspapers. Bags of rice, beans, maize and other foodstuffs were presented to supplement the students' meager diet. Mattresses for all the beds were also donated.

The previous governor had not visited the school in his 8 years in office, so having the deputy governor and state officials see first hand the terrible plight of these children will hopefully bring more government support.

Five Poverty Busters You Should Know

Why? Because Research Shows They Are Making a Real Difference

As a developmental economist, people often ask me, "What can I do as a Christian to really make an impact on world poverty?" Especially as people consider giving and charitable donations during the Christmas season, the question has inspired me to create a list of five of the most dedicated and innovative Christians I have discovered in my work and research in international poverty alleviation. While some of these individuals help lead Christian organizations, others direct what are essentially secular organizations strongly influenced by their faith. Some are well-known in development circles; others have labored for years outside of the public eye. All share in common a dynamic faith that has helped shape innovative approaches to poverty.

They also share a commitment to effectiveness. Not every approach taken by these practitioners has met with instant success. This is okay. Poverty is a tough nut to crack. But through dedication to rigorous evaluation, constant innovation, learning, re-innovation, and the dogged pursuit of excellence in their work, their respective programs share a commitment to genuine impact over feel-good charity.

1. Auyba Guffwan, Director, Beautiful Gate/Wheelchairs for Nigeria

We sometimes hear the phrases "the poorest of the poor" or "the least of these." Interested in knowing who they are? They are the disabled in the poorest countries, often rejected as outcasts by their families, left on the street to beg. These beloved human beings are, truly and tragically, the poorest of the poor. There are one billion people living with serious disabilities today, most of them in the developing world.

Ayuba Guffwan is one of my development heroes. Paralyzed from polio at age four, it would have been easy for Ayuba to slide quietly into a life of hopelessness, substance abuse, and begging. Receiving a wheelchair gave him the hope to pursue his dream of helping others like himself. He and "retired" Pastor Ron Rice founded Beautiful Gate in 1999. Since gaining access to a wheelchair and founding the organization, Ayuba earned a law degree from the University of Jos, married, fathered three children, and became an international leader in Rotary International. The organization has become the largest supplier of mobility aids in Nigeria, rescuing thousands from crawling in the dust on hands and feet, giving them the mobility to live with dignity and as integrated members of society.

Furthermore this ministry operates in a region of Northern Nigeria where Christians face violent persecution by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram. While overtly Christian, Beautiful Gate provides wheelchairs to Muslims and Christians without partiality. Despite the great risks, it has continued to serve in this area with favor among Muslims as a peaceful witness of the hands of Christ.

But just as impressive as Ayuba's story is the impact of providing wheelchairs. Although unable to carry out fieldwork in Nigeria due to the terrorism risk, inspired by Beautiful Gate my graduate student Justin Grider and I carried out a study among a similar disabled population in Ethiopia, comparing life outcomes between statistically matched current and future wheelchair recipients.

In a study forthcoming in the Journal of Development Effectiveness, we found life-changing impacts from wheelchairs provided to the disabled population. In a given week, wheelchair recipients traveled about 7 miles farther away from their homes than those without a wheelchair. We also found that wheelchair beneficiaries spent nearly two hours more per day in income-generating work, reducing begging by nearly the same amount of time. The income of the wheelchair recipients was $6.23 per week higher than those without wheelchairs, a 78 percent increase over the very small baseline of $8.02 (yes, the disabled poor earn this little per week in places like Ethiopia.) Our estimates showed that an economic investment in a wheelchair realized an internal rate of return of 122 percent, simply based on the increased income the recipient would earn relative to the cost of the wheelchair, a rate of return that vastly exceeds that of the most productive Fortune 500 companies. By providing a wheelchair through a $150 donation to Beautiful Gate, one can literally transform a life.

Please help these polio survivors with a gift to Wheelchairs for Nigeria

Send your tax-deductible gift to Wheelchairs for Nigeria, 1542 Palm Ave SW. Seattle, WA 98116 or give online. Please consider an automatic monthly gift, as some of our supporters do, through bill pay at your bank or PayPal.

$150 transforms a life!

You can also download the PDF version of this newsletter.
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