Sunday, September 10, 2006

God's Love in Action: Another One-Man Startup Reaches the World

Don Schoendorfer was a mechanical engineer, an inventor in high-tech southern California. He slowly came to realize that his money-oriented life was not helping the world very much. He was struck by a memory of a visit to a third-world country where a disabled woman without a wheelchair was dragging herself across the road. He set out to develop the least expensive way to mass-produce wheelchairs so he could give them away for free. Bicycle tires and lawn chairs became some of the essential components of his rig for his Free Wheelchair Mission. These wheelchairs can be produced for $41 U.S. each. His goal? To give away 20 million free wheelchairs over the next few years. He has given away well over one hundred thousand wheelchairs already, concentrating on nations where wheelchairs are simply not available for the disabled poor.

I first became aware of his work through a write-up in Reader's Digest some time back. Again, he challenges me to look ever harder for my niche to serve. Like others, he takes the question, "What can one person do?" and answers with his life.




Previous in the God's Love in Action series:
3A Bereavement Foundation
Houston's border angel and his "paper houses" ministry
Society of St. Andrew's gleaning network

3 comments:

P.S. (an after-thought) said...

Wow, what a great example of thinking outside of the box. When I think of the people who could be helped....

Too often, in this country, our helping devices are way too expensive. And then we have to rely on insurance or government.

My disabled friend's husband is constantly devising tools for her. Her therapists often ask where she got the items.

Weekend Fisher said...

That reminds me of a few years back when my daughter fell and broke her collar bone. My aunt took some shirts and altered them so that shoulder fastened with Velcro. And the people at the doctor's office were all excited about that, "ooh you could sell that and make a fortune." What a mindset. If we weren't trying to make a fortune, would it take a fortune to get this stuff? Things that make you go Hmm.

Arwen said...

As someone who works with people who have disabilities, I am truely thankful for the many people who have the creativity to come up with ways to make life easier. There are so many things that we take for granted as able bodied people... the modifications necessary/ possible are endless... endless ways for us to serve our neighbours... thank God there are still ideas we haven't come up with yet :-)