“What I’ve been doing for the past 20 years is collect wheelchairs, refurbish them and bring them worldwide,” Mark Richard, Director of Operations for Hope Haven International, said. This type of work, he says, fulfills him.
“When I started coming to do volunteer work in Guatemala 30 years ago and saw people crawling around, it just tore my heart out,” Richard said. “At one point we said we wanted to start bringing wheelchairs down, well, at least one wheelchair for a neighbor lady, and we ended up bring 20 wheelchairs and that was kind of the beginning.”
Richard now runs a wheelchair factory through Hope Haven Guatemala, a non-governmental organization. The workers at the factory are all disabled themselves.
“To not only be able to provide mobility, but to take it to the next level and provide employment in unbelievable,” Richard said.
“There are thousands and thousands of children that need mobility,” Richard said. “It’s tragic, but true.”
Richard says a lot of them are hidden away, and many people have neighbors right next to them they’ve never met because they’ve never been able to leave their house. Richard hopes everyone considers donating, volunteering, or collecting wheelchairs to be refurbished and shipped worldwide.
“We like to say you’re not sponsoring a wheelchair, you’re sponsoring that child or that adult to change their life,” Richard says.
Meet the others who are part of the solution: