SafariSeat Wheelchairs Change The Lives Of Disabled East Africans

The wheelchairs work like four-wheel drive and are giving disabled people more independence.

Credit: Uji

Credit: Uji

An alarming 1 in 200 East Africans need a wheelchair and don’t have one, making them dependent on others and unable to contribute to the household’s income or daily tasks. These family members often lack access to education, employment, and a life outside of their home because of their immobility.

SafariSeats are wheelchairs designed inexpensively with bicycle parts and meant to be built and repaired in developing countries. The details for them will be released in an open source toolkit once the Kickstarter campaign, which has already been fully funded, is over and the first 50 SafariSeats have been produced for wider distribution.

What makes the wheelchairs special is that they have a mechanism that imitates the suspension on a car with four-wheel drive so that all of the wheels stay on the ground at all times. This makes it easier to navigate the tough terrain in the area, and its pump lever system allows the rider to use the wheelchair with ease. The seat is also designed to minimize pressure sores, a problem that is common amongst people bound to wheelchairs.

Credit: Uji

Credit: Uji

The designer behind SafariSeats, Janna Deeble, grew up in Kenya and witnessed firsthand the difficulties that disabled people faced. One person in particular was a child named Letu, who was left without mobility after battling polio. When Deeble suffered from an accident while attending design school and was wheelchair-bound for some time after, the struggles that Letu faced without the ability to move freely really hit home.

Deeble returned to Kenya to create SafariSeat and work with locals to develop workshops and the product itself. He gifted the wheelchair to Letu, who is now more independent and excited to teach his son what it’s like to be Samburu, a semi-nomadic group of people.

Credit: Uji

Credit: Uji

Deeble is one of the founders of the company backing SafariSeat, Uji, and this is the first project they are taking on to improve the lives of impoverished, disabled people. Though they have already met their initial monetary goal, they have outlined just how much of a difference they can make with each new landmark donation above their goal.

The pictographic manual used as the open source toolkit will transcend language barriers so that it can be referenced universally. As the SafariSeats grow in popularity and usefulness, Uji wants to expand their reach to war-torn countries and refugees.

If you would like to donate to SafariSeats, you can do so here.

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