Week 4: Wheels for the World in Uganda 2021 - Supported Distribution

Week 4: Wheels for the World in Uganda 2021 - Supported Distribution

Supported Distribution to the Bidi Bid Refugee Camp, N.W. Uganda

Wheels Blog Week 4 (22nd and 23rd February 2021)

We are now half way through our distribution timetable supporting Hope Health Action as they distribute wheelchairs and other walking aids in the Bidi Bidi Refugee Camp in N.W. Uganda. It has been a rewarding task for our team of therapists and techies.
This week we saw around 28 people with a variety of conditions. I use the word conditions rather than complaints, because the people we see do not complain, despite the hard life they have in the camp. They are always so grateful for the gift of a walking aid or wheelchair. Some like Ester already had axilla crutches, but the gift of a wheelchair or a pair of lightweight elbow crutches enable them to get around much more easily.

Ester sits in her new wheelchair, with her crutches on either side of herEster tells us with a beaming smile, that she's forgotten her age! She lives in Bidi Bidi Zone 5 and is from Yei, South Sudan. She has been living in the camp since 2016 after fleeing the war in South Sudan. Fortunately at that time she was able to get a lift to the camp in a U.N. vehicle. Her husband had died before the war and one of her two sons one was killed during it, so now she just lives with her other son in Bidi Bidi.

Life for Ester has been a real struggle; she has had little help. She has had a painful wound on her leg for 12 years which has caused her lack of mobility. She has been using crutches, but they are uncomfortable and very difficult for her because of her age and fragility.

This week she received a wheelchair and also became a Christian. She was really happy to know about Jesus and plans to go to church in her wheelchair! She'll also be able to go to the hospital as well as collect her rations herself, so she will be able to get more food. She is extremely grateful for the help she has received.

Gladys sits in her new wheelchairThen there is the story of Gladys who is 9 years old and the oldest of three children. She comes from Kajo Keji, South Sudan. Like Esther above, Gladys and her family came to Bidi Bidi in 2016. They fled South Sudan, because the family had received three death threats. Gladys didn't have a wheelchair for the journey so she had to be carried. Most of the journey was on foot.

Gladys' disability began in 2012 when she contracted malaria. Her parents, who both came with her to the distribution, took her to a clinic in Kajo Keji. There she was given an injection but started having convulsions. She was referred to hospital where she remained for three weeks. When she was finally discharged, she was unable to walk. Her parents took her to a physiotherapist who believed she had contracted polio.

Now they are in Bidi Bidi, there is no possibility for her to go to Arua, over 100km away for physiotherapy. Treatment would also be very expensive. Her father is her greatest advocate and is trying to find support for her so she can access physiotherapy. She is able to stand and walk a couple of paces, but her knees are very stiff.

We provided Gladys with a wheelchair and also a walking frame. This is the first time they have received a mobility device for her. The wheelchair will help her go to school and to church and the frame will help her practice walking in the hope that her legs get stronger. She said she is going to practice every day! The Through the Roof therapist also advised her mother on sleeping positions to help straighten her legs. They were also very happy to hear the word of God and her father beamed when he talked about it.They hope that in the future Gladys will keep studying and will find a job. She is in 3rd year of primary school, is very bright and enjoys studying. Right now the schools are shut for Covid but she can't wait to restart.

Mariamu smiles while she sits in her new wheelchairAnother story was that of Mariamu. She joyfully told us that she is 73 years old. A Ugandan national, she was married and has been blessed with 12 children, but unfortunately seven of them have died.

She was infected with polio at the age of 10 and had to drop out of school because of it. She married at 16, but suffered hatred from her parents because of her disability. We were told that her family considered her to be a useless thing, not a human being. She is thankful to God that her husband didn't divorce her because of her disability. Sadly he died earlier this year.
Over the years she has only been able to crawl on her knees, always indoors, without any access to social gatherings. Today, she told us, is the remarkable day that she has received a wheelchair and can now go to Church, the hospital, the market and visit people.

She says, “Thank you so much HHA and the donors. May God bless you so much.”

These are just three stories of the many people we saw this week. Each one would have a heart breaking story to tell. We were told that life in the camp is a real struggle. Recently the UNHCR was forced to reduce the refugee’s rations again, because of funding difficulties and Covid, so people are going hungry.

Please pray for these refugees and for the agencies like HHA and UNHCR.

We thank God that we have seen 87 people since the beginning of February and at least 24 of them have given their lives to Jesus.
At the end of this week’s distribution we managed to have a WhatsApp video chat with the HHA team and were introduced to the local officials in Zone 5. They expressed their gratitude to all concerned for the work being undertaken by Hope Health Action and Through the Roof in their area. Before signing off for the week, we were led by Agnes, one of the HHA team, in a prayer of thanksgiving for the work achieved and the lives changed.

Week 3: Wheels for the World in Uganda 2021 - Supported Distribution

Supported Distribution to the Bidi Bid Refugee Camp, N.W. Uganda

Wheels Blog Week 3 (15th and 16th February 2021)

We are well into the Supported Distribution process now. The UK team members make a video call to our HHA colleagues in Bidi Bidi at the start of each distribution session at around 07:00 and 11:00 each Monday and Tuesday morning and try to sign off by video at the session end, three hours later.

A pick up truck fully loaded with wheelchairsThis week we have refined the process and are mainly using photos rather than live WhatsApp video to advise on the suitability of equipment being proposed and we are finding the team ‘on the ground’ are gaining in confidence each week. The reason for using photos is the variable quality of the internet, the ability to see the client more clearly and the difficulties associated with hearing each other. Using photos and WhatsApp messages seems to be working well.

This week we saw a total of twenty clients who had conditions such as hip dislocation, polio, stokes, T.B., paralysis, cerebral palsy and disabilities as a result of accidents and we advised the HHA team on adjusting wheelchairs and crutches as well as encouraging mobility where possible to those able to walk short distances.

Aliru sits in her new wheelchairOnce again we were encouraged to hear stories of grateful clients such as Aliru, a 40 year old lady, who had polio as a child which had left her with contracted legs. She is a Ugandan national in Yumbe District and has 11 children. She was unable to go to the market or any social gatherings as the only way for her to get about was by crawling on her knees. The team provide her with a self-propelling wheelchair, with adaptions to support her leg contractures.

She is now very happy that the sun will not burn her legs and she can now go to the market, church, conferences, meetings and visits.

We feel privileged to be able to help in this distribution, although we probably would all love to be out there with the HHA team if we were able. It is so rewarding to see the HHA team growing in ability each week. Please pray for them especially for guidance as to what equipment to load each day and for safety as they travel.

Isaac Taban

Isaac Taban (Senior field coordinator)

Patrick Wolya Lagu

Patrick Wolya Lagu (Program manager)

The Bidi Bidi Team

L-R Jesca Yankisuk, the Driver Magalala, Agnes Kaya, Moses Loguya, Clement Kenyi, and Moses Moga

Week 2: Wheels for the World in Uganda 2021 - Supported Distribution

The HHA team arriving in the area and unloading wheelchairs from the back of a truckSupported Distribution to the Bidi Bid Refugee Camp, N.W. Uganda

Wheels Blog Week 2 (8th and 9th February 2021)

Following on from the successful start of the distribution last week the HHA team Clement, Agnes and Moses were out ‘on the ground’ again supported by the Wheels therapists and techies in the UK and Isaac in Yumbe.

Like all successful distributions it was good to review the feedback on how the distribution had gone the previous week and so the leadership team met on a zoom meeting to see if the process needed adapting. Following that meeting a few minor changes were proposed to make the system work more smoothly and these have been actioned this week. The main change was around the internet connection and our ability to clearly see the recipients. To resolve this, photos of clients are now being sent by the HHA team for the TTR team’s comments. This seemed to work much better as WhatsApp video calls can be frustrating if the internet isn’t stable. The still images were clear and we could zoom in to see any needed detail enabling the team to quickly identify whether any further action was needed by the HHA team.

It is important to note that the HHA team are not based in one location throughout this distribution. Instead they move around to different zones in the almost 100 square miles (250 km2) that Bidi Bidi covers. This entails them taking the equipment they think is required each day to the distribution point. Over the two days we saw 29 people with a variety of conditions such as polio, paralysis, spinal cord injury, old age mobility issues and cerebral palsy. Our therapists gave advice on such things as seating positions, pressure sore awareness and fitting elbow crutches. The HHA team are working extremely hard and it is a privilege to be able to assist them and the people in Bibi Bidi. Charity, a recipient, standing with her new crutches

We want to thank all the donors of equipment, whether a wheelchair or other aid as each item has the capacity to change a life. The picture here is of a lady called Charity who received a crutch and sent her gratitude to the team. A little girl being helped with a wheelchair fittingThe little girl who has polio was given a wheelchair, but we asked her mother to encourage her to stand and walk if possible.

 A small act of giving an unwanted piece of equipment can be huge to someone in need and we should not underestimate these acts of kindness and how they can impact on someone else. We also want to thank those who give financially to enable the equipment to be cleaned, overhauled and sent to out. Without both groups of people Through the Roof wouldn’t be able to do what we do through Wheels for the World.




Please pray for:

  • Good internet connections;
  • That the little girl above might eventually be able to walk;
  • For stamina for the team and the clients who wait patiently for their turn;
  • For Pastor Moses as he gives out bibles and shares the gospel;
  • For the right equipment to be sent out each day for the people coming to the distribution;
  • For ongoing health and safety for the HHA team as they travel around the camp and meet the people each day, and,
  • For the Wheels team, some of whom are fitting their duty sessions in around work and/or home schooling.

Week 1: Uganda 2021 - Supported Distribution

Supported Distribution to the Bidi Bid Refugee Camp, N.W. Uganda 
Wheels Blog Week 1 (1st and 2nd February 2021
Through the Roof’s first supported distribution of 135 wheelchairs and other walking aids began this week. This was, like all normal distributions, planned carefully with a team of therapists and techies, providing support to a partner organisation--in this case, Hope Health Action, based in the vast refugee camp in the north-west corner of Uganda. The UK team led by Jill Jenkinson, with Lynne Mosher as deputy, had met with HHA staff on a zoom call a couple of weeks ago and for some of us it was good to see our Ugandan partners again after first meeting them on the 2019 trip, but because of Covid-19, this distribution was to be different. We were pleased to hear that several of the team had been on a World Health Organisation wheelchair training programme to develop their skills as they would take the lead in the distribution and call us as and when they needed assistance. They had already carried out assessments on the people who were to be given wheelchairs and aids.  

A shipping container full of wheelchairsThe container of wheelchairs had arrived, been loaded onto a truck and delivered to Bidi Bidi, one of the largest refugee settlements in the world with around 300,000 people in it, and a few days ago some members of each team linked up on a WhatsApp video call and discussed the intricacies of the more complex chairs so that the team would be able to allocate those chairs to certain people that they had already assessed.  

The wheelchairs out and ready to be sortedFor each session the UK team comprised one or two therapists and a techie from a rota of ten people and each day is split into two three hour sessions starting at 07:00 and 11:00 UK time. 

The distribution days are each Monday and Tuesday from 1st February through to the 16th of March. Each day started off with the session team checking in on WhatsApp video with the Ugandan team and a brief period of prayer. The main concern was that the internet connection would hold up so that we could see clearly video of the people or equipment that we were hoping to give advice about and fortunately, it wasn’t too bad apart from Tuesdays first session when still photos were sent for comment. So Monday 1 February, before the sun rose in the UK, a WhatsApp call was made to the HHA team and the distribution started.  

Whilst nothing like a normal distribution for the UK Team, sitting at home with our cups of tea and looking at the cold weather outside, it was just as intense and rewarding as we saw the HHA team modifying the equipment to suit the needs of the people they were serving and later, hearing messages of thanks from some of the recipients.  

James sat in his wheelchairIn our previous visit to Bidi Bidi, we were humbled by some of the stories that we heard. This time was no different as we heard about James who is 58 years old. He was married, but his wife divorced him due to his disability and poverty. We were told that God blessed them with 6 children before the divorce. 

His disability was caused by robbers in South Sudan who came one night and cut his leg, his head and hands. They left him unconscious and in the morning the government took him to the hospital where his right leg was amputated below the knee. He said he remains without a wife and is struggling with life until today.  

He said, “I thank God that He kept me alive till today. Since July 2016 I suffered without a wheelchair until today.  But today, God has answered my prayers through you, Hope Health Action and Through the Roof. I was a burden to my children, relatives and neighbours whenever I wanted to travel long distances, like to hospital, church, social gatherings, or visiting. But now I really appreciate your help and support towards my life may God bless you abundantly, continue praying for us in the Camp and also supporting us.” 

Blossom, a young girl, sitting in her new chairAs well as adults we were also asked to advise on seating children. Some, like Blessing pictured here were given wheelchairs, but for others like Brian and Jona the teams decided a buggy would be more appropriate. And we gave advice on how to adjust straps and add cushioning to suit each child. 

Another child on the trip is fitted with a buggyLike on all trips, each person who seen by the HHA team had the opportunity to hear the gospel and we were delighted to hear that a total of 9 people gave their lives to Jesus in those two days and a total 21 wheelchairs plus 16 crutches and walking sticks and a few buggies were issued. 

Another child with their new buggyThe main thing that came across to the UK team was the ability of the HHA team and we were pleased to hear that the profile of Hope Health Action, as well as Through the Roof, is being raised. 

Please continue to pray for the two teams as we try to serve the people in Bidi Bidi. Please pray for the internet connections and the technology, that we will be able to see and hear the people out there ‘on the ground’ and that they can hear and understand us. Pray also for stamina for the HHA team, working in the heat of the day. And also pray for the people in the camp, who have so little, yet are so grateful for the gift of a wheelchair or walking aid and a Bible.  
Thank you. 
Dave Camp 

Sponsor a Wheelchair

Sponsor a Wheelchair

Sponsor a wheelchair for £42, and transform the life of a disabled person overseas. We take second hand wheelchairs from the UK, refurbish them to a high standard, and transport them to a developing country, where a skilled volunteer fits the chairs for disabled people, bringing new hope and independence. All wheelchair sponsors receive a photo certificate of a recipient after a trip is completed.

You can also sponsor an audio Bible in the recipient's own language for £21. Thank you -- your support is transforming lives!

Follow this link to download a wheelchair sponsorship form with more details, or contact the TTR office on 01372 749955 or by email to be sent a form or donate over the phone. You can also donate online through our Just Giving site, though please reference 'Wheels sponsor' in the Message box and give the name you'd like on the sponsorship certificate.

To donate by bank transfer, please use our Charity Choice bank account with Virgin Money. The bank details are:

Account name: Through the Roof Charitable Trust
Sort code: 82-12-08
Account number: 20047444

Please use the reference ‘Wheels Sponsor’. Please also contact us with your address so we know where to send your certificate and/or bookmark.