Israel is providing 270 wheelchairs to disabled Guatemalan children, bolstering their independence and facilitating their development.
Israel’s Ambassador to Guatemala Mattanya Cohen on Thursday presented the first of 270 Wheelchairs of Hope donated by MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development, to children with special needs in the country.
The moving ceremony was attended by the Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales, First Lady Patricia de Morales and Guatemalan Foreign Minister Sandra Jovel.
The low-maintenance, low-cost colorful wheelchairs were conceptualized by Israeli couple Pablo Kaplan and Chava Rotshtein to help children with disabilities in developing countries.
“The idea is not the chair itself, but the mobility and independence it gives to children who would otherwise not have any access to school or community life,” Kaplan said.
The chairs were developed with the aid of professionals at ALYN Hospital in Jerusalem, a pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation center.
It is estimated that about 1 percent of the world’s total population, or 10 percent of the disabled population, need wheelchairs, a total of about 65 million people worldwide. About 20 million of those requiring a wheelchair for mobility do not have access to them, out of which, 25 percent are children.
Wheelchairs of Hope previously have been donated to needy children in Vietnam, Peru, Tajikistan, South Africa and Argentina, as well as mobility-challenged children in Israel and Palestinian Authority-controlled areas, with some of them earmarked for Syrian refugee children.
Israel21C contributed to this report.