Under the surface of the popular resort town of Victoria Falls that attracts tourists from all over the world, lies a sad reality for the disabled members of society. Moved by their suffering, two men teamed up to make a difference.
by Fungai Kwaramba Harare
Erik Luchs was horrified to see a physically disabled man crawling on the ground for lack of a wheelchair and through Friends of Shamwari, he decided to start a programme designed to equip those who cannot help themselves.
Wheelchair-bound Luch, a Zimbabwean who has spent the last 18 years of his life in America, teamed up with Victoria Falls-based Russel Caldet, who is also in a wheelchair, to form Friends of Shamwari.
“Our organization was started about two years ago after I met Russell Caldecott He wanted to get a charity set up that would aid the disabled in Victoria Falls and surrounding areas,” said Luch.
With help from Wheels for Humanity they have brought in containers of wheelchairs from the USA and China which they believe will transform the lives of Victoria Falls residents and beyond.
“We have brought in over 200 wheelchairs as well as 100 other pieces of medical equipment for the disabled and 150 sweatshirts and 500 soccer uniforms plus a lot of educational supplies, books, pencils,” said Luch.
Lazarus gets used to his new wheelchair which will enable him to go to school and have a greater degree of freedom. Lazarus gets used to his new wheelchair which will enable him to go to school and have a greater degree of freedom.
“The target group starts with the disabled in Victoria Falls and then will quickly spread out to the surrounding villages, up to 100 km away at this stage,” he added.
Twenty-year-old Lazarus Moyo, who has had to crawl for the past two decades, will now, thanks to Friends of Shamwari, regain his independence with his new wheelchair.
“For the first time in my life, today I didn’t crawl on the ground. That alone is beyond anything I ever thought would come of me. And now, I want to help others like me. Please learn more and help however you can. There are so many others like me,” a statement from Lazarus reads.
Luch explained his motivation for returning to Zimbabwe to help his countrymen.
“We will definitely transform lives. My motivation is to give back to the country where I was raised and that was so good to me. The people of Zimbabwe are a caring, kind, smiling and loving people and they have been forgotten on the world stage,” said Luch.
Luch, whose organisation is currently very small, called on local groups to work together in support of the disabled community.
While Luch travels far and wide to raise money and awareness for the project, is Caldecott is busy preparing for the Paralympics to be held in London next year; Friends of Shamwari hope to sponsor a team.