Around the world, people with disabilities are the poorest and most vulnerable. The World Bank Voices of the Poor study found that those with disabilities were considered by their own communities and peers to be the most disadvantaged among the poor. Persons with disabilities are often the most isolated and stigmatized and least likely to have access to employment, health, education, and resources.
Among the many needs persons with disabilities have, mobility aids and income are the most immediate. In countries where the cost of an artificial limb or wheelchair is equal to or greater than the average annual income, people with mobility disabilities may never leave their homes, go to school, earn a living, and be full participants in their communities. Equally important, income is vital for people with disabilities to sustain themselves and their families, yet many employers and development initiatives refuse to hire or lend money to people with dis-abilities. The Polus Center is inviting the Grapes for Humanity Foundation to support the following grassroots initiatives in Central America and Africa:
- Artificial limbs for 24 individuals through the Walking Unidos Prosthetic Outreach Clinic in Leon, Nicaragua;
- Custom-made wheelchairs for 62 individuals through the Leon Wheelchair Workshop
- Access to micro-credit (village banking) for small business development for women with disabilities or persons affected by leprosy in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and
- Access to micro-credit (village banking) for small business development and/or mobility aids for 27 persons with disabilities in Lusaka, Zambia.
All of the projects above are sponsored by the Polus Center but implemented by individuals from the local community. The Polus Center works with grassroots organizations and others to build capacity over time and gain the skills and resources necessary to create new opportunities for their members and beneficiaries.