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Review for Free Wheelchair Mission, Irvine, CA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

This organization is an outstanding example of just how much can be done with a little creativity, a lot of hard work, great local partners, and an undying passion to reach and transform the lives of those who truly are the poorest, most marginalized in the world. Through their vast network of local partners, Free Wheelchair Mission (FWM) has distributed over 670,000 durable, simply-constructed, comfortable wheelchairs in 86 countries. As one writer has said, the quality of the chairs has been verified through approval by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). This means the quality of the chairs distributed overseas is the same as one that would be distributed in the USA. The Gen 1 chair may look odd to some, but an immense amount of research and engineering design (including collaboration with UCI) went into its production, and it is extremely well received by families and beneficiaries. Many people in the US may not know, but families and caretakers often bathe wheelchair recipients directly in the chair, and its unique design allows them to do that. For a disabled individual living their whole life in the mud of the Mekong delta, or the family of a child with a disability, for instance, the chair may be the most beautiful thing they have ever seen. Being able to move around brings dignity, hope, and the possibility of a better life. And for $71.88, this is the biggest bang for your buck of any humanitarian agency I know - and I've been in the business for over 20 years. Another point is that most humanitarian agencies won't openly offer donors to experience a distribution in the way FWM does - but I know many people who have travelled to the location where their donated wheelchairs were destined for, whether that was Vietnam, Uganda, Peru, etc., and participated in their assembly and distribution. Now that is transparency! For those who are critical, they should do a little more research before they criticize... and they might find as we have that FWM and its partners (including leading Motivation International out of the UK) are amongst the finest in the business - if not the very best!

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