Wheelchairs are custom-made in the AMPO workshop
The tricycles are hand-crank operated to navigate the difficult roads of Burkina Faso, allowing the user to move around independently. A wider version is also available for adults riding with children and the chairs can be personalized in a variety of colors.
For many of those coming to the workshop, it is the first time they experience a custom-built mobility aid. They enter the workshop assisted by relatives and leave under their own steam. This is what makes this programme so effective.
Edouard Ouedrago is in charge of the Wheelchair Project and, being a wheelchair user himself, he knows firsthand how difficult the situation is for people with disabilities in Burkina Faso.
Edouard also understands the added value of his workshop. The five wheelchair makers here at AMPO are all people with disabilities. They are trained for a job that offers employment to people who often suffer discrimination on the labor market.
The workshop offers instruction on the use of the wheelchair, including a repair service for a modest fee. Clients in need may also benefit from medical and financial assistance. In addition, the staff regularly helps clients applying to the authorities for the first time for an identity card, giving them the official status of a person with a disability.
Spreading their expertise over a wider area, the staff travels further afield to reach people with disabilities in rural areas. Three times a month they travel within a radius of 200km, working with local disability associations to train skills and advocate for greater access to mobility aids. Up to 1600 people are reached every year, each one enabled to lead a fuller life with fewer restrictions and increased opportunity.
The project recognizes that the ability to move independently is fundamentally important to people with disabilities. Giving a child a wheelchair puts previously inaccessible opportunities within reach. In many cases, the children are free to explore the world around them for the first time without a friend or family member to help.