However, children grow fast and soon outgrow their wheelchairs. Their physical conditions change as they grow, and it is necessary for them (or their parents) to buy new ones which are quite expensive — one hundred to three hundred thousand yen — every two or three years. Regarding children’s wheelchairs, there is no demand for used wheelchairs because subsidies are only for new ones, so it is easier and less expensive to apply for subsidies and get new ones. As a result, wheelchairs which are still in good condition after a few years’ use are to be thrown away.
On the other hand, many disabled children in developing countries are shut up indoors. There are a few lucky children who go to school for the disabled, but their wheelchairs at school are for adults and they have no wheelchairs at home. There is almost no wheelchair for children, and with their parents working out in the daytime, all they can do is lie on the bed all day. They can’t even sunbathe. This is the real situation abroad.
The wheelchairs which are thrown away in Japan are in quite good shape and most of them can be used like new ones after refurbishing. Hirokazu Morita, the chairperson of our organization, has a child with inborn disability and through his experience of having a disabled child he hit on an idea of making use of these thrown-away wheelchairs. He thought of sending these wheelchairs to children
who really need them abroad and helping them pursue their own happiness by letting them move around freely on their wheelchairs. With several collaborators Morita started the organization on June, 2004.
What is characteristic of our organization is that we get strong support from homes for disabled children and parents who have difficulty disposing of used wheelchairs and that we clean and fix those used wheelchairs by ourselves with voluntary cooperation of manufacturers which specialize in wheelchairs. The cleaned and fixed wheelchairs are loaded into a big container and transported by ship.
We collect used wheelchairs which have been disposed of at parents’ expenses for free and let them live again abroad. We think it is significant that we are able to contribute to recycling and effective use of resources with a global perspective.
We believe that connecting Japanese children with disabled children abroad who are unable to enjoy social welfare and cannot move around freely and helping building up a society where disabled children enjoy their lives can be a big step to international goodwill. We have pride in our activity.