You can be forgiven if right now you are shaking your head and thinking..."What?? Veloo Foundation....wheelchairs?" I imagine many of you are out there wondering what the heck is going on. This is, after all, not our usual fare and nowhere in this post are there photos of happy smiling kids either at the kindergarten or out in the countryside. The lack of those happy, smiling faces does not, however, minimize the joy of this story. You see, sometimes fate has a way of expanding your outlook on the world and providing unexpected opportunities to truly make a difference. That's what happened to us. Here's how we ended up in the business of distributing wheelchairs to the very needy in Mongolia. In late May we were contacted by a Canadian company that had a major donation of wheelchairs, commode chairs, bed and chair lifts ( not the skiing kind...the kind that help people with mobility issues move from chair to bed or chair to chair) that they wanted to get to Mongolia and as we are the only Canadian charity working in Mongolia they were wondering if we could help. Well, we had to think about it - the cost for shipping the wheelchairs was not small - at first it was looking like it would be $8000.00 but then it turned into more like $11,000.00 - quite a chunk of change for us. On the flip side - the value of the donated items was huge. Massive really. Not only the dollar value, but just the sheer quantity and diversity of these chairs and assorted medical devices would mean that hundreds and hundreds of individuals, organizations and hospitals in Mongolia would be so much better equipped to help the people of Mongolia. It would mean that we could truly make a difference.
And so ... we decided to do it. We pledged to pay for the shipment from our own pocket seeing as our donors had donated in order to help us with our primary programme - the Children of the Peak Sanctuary Project - we felt it would not be right to use said donations for something so completey different. As with most things of this nature, time was of the essence. We only had a week to organize a team to remove labels from the chairs, contact shipping companies to give quotes and look at logistics and get some volunteers to sort, organize and load up the container on the day. Thankfully we had the help of the BC Mongolian Association and have a great contact at a shipping company (the same company that helped us so much with our original shipment back in 2010 of 4.5 tons of warm clothing , blankets, coats and the like) who wanted to help. They stepped in and , together with some very committed volunteer labour, made it all happen. They build shelves in the container, loaded it up, chose shipping routes and we were away!
So now they're here and we get the fun of helping decide where to send them. We are working with the Mongolian National Handicapped Association to make sure they will end up where they can do the most good - in Ulaanbaatar and far out into the countryside! We are looking at hospitals and associations across Mongolia to make sure that we help the most number of people possible.
Future updates and details of some of the 300+ stories that this distribution will result in will be posted here as the stories unfold and while this may well be the only such shipment that we are ever able to coordinate and make happen, I am so happy to have been able to be apart of the chain that is making such a HUGE difference ...one chair at a time.