Mormon Newsroom
News Release

Wheelchairs to 80 Deserving Recipients

Lotus FM teams with Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

As many as 100 million people worldwide may be in need of a wheelchair and don’t have access to one. Only 1 in 100 can afford to purchase a wheelchair. To be mobile, people with disabilities often rely on family and friends to carry them from place to place. It can be extremely difficult just to leave home. Going to school or getting a job may be impossible dreams. To assist, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as The Mormons, partners with community organizations serving the disabled. This time the Church teamed up with Radio Lotus FM and through their on-air announcements received dozens of applications from deserving individuals. Lisa Chetty of Lotus FM was so touched by these stories that she wanted to personally call each one that was chosen to let them know they received their chair. Elder and Sister Kyle, who are full-time Senior Missionaries  of the Church, helped in the selection of applicants, giving away 36 chairs in the first phase of this wheelchair distribution. Sister Kyle remarked, “Many of the applications were filled out by caregivers who were desperate for help. One married daughter said that her mother sat in a regular 4-legged chair and they had to pull the chair across the room to move her mother to the bathroom or bedroom. She said that her mother was very depressed to have to stay indoors all day and sometimes in bed all day. Every one of these applicants desperately needed a wheelchair. 

In phase one of the wheelchair distribution held at the Lotus FM/SABC studios in Durban 36 chairs were distributed. Phase two was held at Chatsworth Youth Centre where Lotus Fm Distributed the remaining 44 chairs. At both events, the Church Humanitarian Services contracted with a local wheelchair provider to make the wheelchairs especially sized for each recipient. Elder and Sister Eggett serving a Humanitarian Service mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints spoke at both events in regard to the Church's desire to show Christ-like Love by assisting those in need. In 2013, the Church has distributed more than 300,000 wheelchairs in 112 countries.

Young missionaries from the Church were on hand to assist recipients from the parking lot to the event, in one instance carrying a man from his car to a chair inside where the event was held.  Lotus FM station manager, Alvin Pillay expressed his thanks to the church for providing the wheelchairs and helping the physically challenged improve their lives. Charles Magaqa, First Counsellor in the Durban Stake Presidency spoke to the group about their importance as individuals and that God wants them to know that he is aware of their troubles and through others He provides the help they need.

The second  phase not only got applicants from Lotus FM's listeners, but Lotus asked a couple of non-government supported agencies if their people were in need of new wheelchairs. One of these organizations, Durban South Skills Development started by local resident Adele Walker, explained her program and introduced the people who need new wheelchairs. Adele talked about how she started with a disabled woman in her neighbourhood that wanted to learn how to sew. Word quickly got out and she now has a dozen or more physically challenged individuals coming to her home to learn how to be self-reliant. Eleven Chairs were given to the physically challenged people who attend her training.

The Aryan Benevolent Home, another non government funded organization supplies a place to live for the aged and orphans and also houses a nursing school on premise. As part of their nursing training, students help care for those in the aged home and orphanage. Twenty wheelchairs were supplied to individuals living in this home which is run by individual donations.

The third organization was the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities which is also run almost entirely by donations. This organization helps the disabled learn and provides them with opportunities to do small jobs as well. They received eight wheelchairs for various individuals who come to the centre during the day to train and find work opportunities.

All of these people, plus five that applied directly through Lotus Fm Radio ads, were individually measured for the chairs to make sure their chairs would fit properly and be comfortable to sit in for long periods of time.

Phase Two, the handover of 44 wheelchairs, took place at the Chatsworth Youth Centre. The Youth Centre opened in 2003 by Nelson Mandela after a tragic incident in 2001 led to public outcry and the coming together of the community to appeal to Mandela that they needed a place for the youth in that area that would keep them off the streets. The incident occurred when young people attending a dance matinee at a local nightclub were caught in a stampede that led to the death of 13 children, some as young as Ten. Nelson Mandela solicited funds from Mercedes and Nando’s Restaurant for the building of the Chatsworth Youth Centre. Their aim was to create a safe, positive and engaging environment with programs that would prepare and inspire young people to achieve greater  futures.

On August 10th, the morning of the Phase Two wheelchair event, members of the Chatsworth Ward of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints rose early, gathered mops, brooms, brushes, buckets and cleaning supplies and headed to the Youth Centre to clean bathrooms and outside areas. “When we arrived,” said Sister Kyle, “there were people wearing yellow Mormon Helping Hands vests everywhere. Church members were busily working to clean up the Youth Centre. They had pressure washers to clean the mold off the walls of the youth centre and brushes to scrub and clean the quad area where a mosaic wall stands as a tribute to the 13 children who died in the 2001 tragedy, and a mural of Nelson Mandela with his hand held high as a tribute to his order to have the centre built. I have never been more touched than I was at that moment.”

The wheelchair recipients were asked to attend the wheelchair handover event at 3:00 p.m. and to be the guests of honor at a classical piano concert that evening given by world-renowned concert pianist David Glen Hatch and seven other accomplished pianists from the United States who were on a South African Concert Tour. The concert was hosted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and was free to the wheelchair recipients, their families, caregivers and the community.

Lotus FM established a live feed from their radio station for the event and brought in one of their DJs, Clive Gounden, to conduct the event. Deserving recipients lined the width of the gymnasium to receive their new wheelchairs. Before the event started Doney Andrew from the Aryan Benevolent Home, sitting in a wheelchair showing glaring signs of wear, wanted the microphone to thank The Church and Lotus FM for giving him an opportunity to get a new wheelchair. 

Clive Pillay, Director of the Youth Centre, said “This event was amazing. It was wonderful to see how happy these people were to get the new wheelchairs. I realized that the chair was where they spent most of their time and how important it was for them to be comfortable. The new chairs looked very sturdy and comfortable compared to the old ones, which made me realize how much a difference the new wheelchair is going to make in their lives.”



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