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May 12, 2023

Red Cross Wheelchair Program Changing Lives

The Belize Red Cross, in partnership with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, hosted a clinic this week. It is part of a wheelchair program where hundreds of persons with mobility issues are beneficiaries a wheelchair and some level of support. The clinic concluded today and News Five was able to speak with the organizers, as well as a beneficiary who shared how the donation will change his life. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Oftentimes, we take for granted the convenience of being able to walk without impediments. But for persons living with mobility issues, the ease of going to the store or even travelling is a gift. Sixty-five-year-old Robert Jergenson is regaining his independence.


Robert Jergenson

Robert Jergenson, Wheelchair Recipient

“It’s a problem with the wheelchair, but it was comfort enough. But when they stop shub me around, like to get around, I decide on my mind to get a bigger wheel so that I can carry myself because I noh like to annoy people. So that’s the case. Sometimes they willing to do things and sometimes they don’t and I don’t like that. If I ready to move, I want to move; that’s my problem. I am not a guy that likes to sit; I am a busy person.”


Duane Moody

“So now with you getting this new chair, you wah could move around. Yo wah be independent; you could do it yourself?”


Robert Jergenson

“That’s right. I will be here there and everywhere without a problem.”


That’s essentially what the Belize Red Cross Wheelchair Program has been doing for years – changing lives. Physically impaired persons are assisted with a wheelchair that is assembled on site and adjusted to the perfect fit.  Manoeuvring the wheelchair down ramps and stairs is also a skill that volunteers are sharing with the community.


Monica Heredia

Monica Heredia, Volunteer & Youth Development Manager, Belize Red Cross

“A week-long training for the volunteers behind me that we being technicians and assessors and this is kind of their graduation; they have to do wheelchairs for the community. We are doing twenty yesterday and today, but we have this program ongoing where we’ll have wheelchairs available not only at the headquarters here in Belize City, but at some of our branches like Corozal, Punta Gorda, Belmopan and San Ignacio. There is a demand that we are not meeting and there is a demand that we know we can’t meet because we got three hundred and fifty chairs that we are very grateful for, but we know there is a high, high demand. And it has been a while since Corozal has been able to serve their community; this is the first time Punta Gorda is in this project and San Ignacio, so we have new communities that we are able to serve and the list is already growing. So we know we are probably going to be out of wheelchairs in a while.”


It is made possible through partnership with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Representatives are in Belize building the capacity of the Red Cross volunteers, while providing the tools needed for the beneficiaries.


Jeff Waldram

Jeff Waldram, Volunteer Technician, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“This is the third time we’ve been in Belize distributing wheelchairs to people that need them down here in your country.”


Duane Moody

“I understand three hundred and fifty chairs are being donated?”


Jeff Walder

“Are being donated, yes; on this shipment, three hundred and fifty. My training is to teach the Belizean people how to assemble the chairs and then we have the other two gentlemen that I am working with, they are trained physical therapists, professionals. And they teach the people how to measure and fit the person to the correct wheelchair. So it fits them perfectly. If they don’t need a wheelchair, we also provide walkers, crutches, canes, other things they can use for mobility. But the main person is the people that are not mobile. They need to be able to get around to get to work or to get to the store, to go somewhere then they need a wheelchair, then they are mobile.”


Monica Heredia is the Volunteer and Youth Development Manager at the Belize Red Cross. She explains the process of being included in the program.


Monica Heredia

“They contact us, we set up an appointed date and time with each of the branches and even here in Belize City; we ask that they not walk in so that we can make sure that the assessors and technicians are in and then they will do an assessment. It’s a mobility assessment; they have to be able to sit up on their own. If they cannot sit up on their own, these are not the wheelchairs for them. And then they do a balance test and other assessments to see if they can and if this is the wheelchair for them.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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