“Fantastic Debbie” Brings Wheelchairs and Smiles to Disabled Children

Mae Tao Clinic and the Burma Children Medical Fund, on the Thai Burma border, welcomed the arrival of more than 140 wheelchairs, donated for young children in need.

The Burma Children Medical Fund organized the wheelchairs for the cross-border community with the help of several other organisations including Wheelchairs for Kids in Perth, Australia, Allied Pickfords Thailand, the Rotary Club of Wanneroo in Perth, the Suwannimit Foundation in Mae Sot, and Beth Leece, a donor based in Perth.

Photographs shown to Karen News by the Burma Children Medical Fund featured dozens of young children happily receiving their wheelchairs.

Kanchana Thornton, BCMF’s program director, said that the wheelchairs would provide added independence and quality of life for disabled children.

“This delivery of wheelchairs is very important for all the children who need them, because those who have no access because of their disability can now get out and about, get a certain level of independence and will no longer be isolated,” Ms Thornton said in an interview with Karen News, “these wheelchairs will go to the whole cross-border community and to Bangkok.”

Ms Thornton said a massive thanks had to go to Perth woman, Debbie Singh for getting the project of the ground.

“Debbie was fantastic. She organized all the groups in Australia, fundraised for the shipping fees from Perth to Mae Sot – without Debbie none of this would have been possible.”

Ms Thornton also paid tribute to the Australian organisation and their volunteers, mostly retirees, who took the time to make the wheel chairs.

“We received 146 wheelchairs for disabled kids. They were made by Wheelchairs for Kids, a Perth [Australia] based organisation where volunteers, mostly retirees, make the wheelchairs,” Kanchana added.

Kanchana told Karen News that a batch of wheelchairs would be sent to Bangkok to support disabled children there.

“BCMF donated 20 wheelchairs to the Camillian Home, a community based organisation providing care to children with disabilities in Bangkok, which will assist them in their efforts.”

A mother of a child who received a wheelchair at Mae Tao Clinic said it would improve her daughter’s everyday life.

“My daughter, Shwe Yee, cannot feel anything from her knees down to her feet. She has bowel and bladder problems. The wheelchair will make her feel more comfortable and means she has more freedom to get around.”

The grandmother of another, Phyo Zin, said that the wheelchair would allow him to go on trips outside.

“He can only lie down at the home. Now, with the wheelchair he will be more comfortable and he will be able to go outside, on the street and on little trips. We cannot carry him all the time – the wheelchair will help us a lot.”

Another parent said, “Our son, Hein Htet, has epilepsy and has two fits a day. He can only lie at home on the floor. When he gets tired of lying down, I try and have him on my lap, but he is already four-years-old and is getting heavy. In the evening he likes to go out on the pavement and listen to the sounds of traffic passing by. With his wheelchair he will now be able to do this safely. He likes the wheelchair so much he even cried when we took him out of it to transport it back to our village.”

The Mae Tao Clinic and the Burma Children Medical Fund provide healthcare to people from Burma and migrant workers in Thailand.

In 2012, MTC reported 148,561 visits, with an estimated 45% of patients coming from Burma seeking treatment.

BCMF specializes in organizing lifesaving surgical operations that are unaffordable and inaccessible to patients from Burma.

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