Santa Fe nonprofit, Soulful Presence, delivers wheelchairs and medical equipment to Cameroon
Santa Fe, NM, December 8, 2009 – Jenny Sanborn and Issa Nyaphaga have just returned from a month-long trip to Cameroon, where they were delivering wheelchairs and other medical equipment to improve life for Tikar and Pygmy people with disabilities. The donation of equipment was made possible in large part by support from the community of Santa Fe.
Sanborn, a volunteer with Soulful Presence, a Santa Fe-based nonprofit organization, and Nyaphaga, the founder of Hope International for Tikar People (HITIP), had quite a challenge just transporting the equipment to the remote Tikar region of Cameroon.
Everyone, from airline personnel in New Mexico to the local people in Cameroon helped the equipment get to where it needed to go, making the seemingly insurmountable task, possible.
The challenges were all worthwhile to bring mobility to people who lacked the means to gain this basic human right, Sanborn explained. “I met people who were so grateful. I got to look them in the eye and say: You may be seeing only my face, but I represent hundreds of people in Santa Fe who want to create freedom for people with disabilities.”
Local fundraising efforts by Soulful Presence began in May 2009 and culminated with an event at El Museo Cultural September 17 where artist and activist Nyaphaga performed. All proceeds from the event and other donations went directly to purchase wheelchairs, crutches and other medical supplies.
Local businesses like Trader Joe’s and Los Alamos National Bank also donated tote bags for school children, while Craig Hospital in Denver donated crutches, canes, and other disability related equipment.
The wheelchairs purchased with donations were Cameroonian-produced three-wheelers, designed to help villagers travel long distances over dirt roads and rough terrain. Built from bicycle parts, they allow people with disabilities in Cameroon to travel to school, work and elsewhere.
Nyaphaga, an exiled Cameroonian artist, started HITIP in 2002 after being inspired by a young polio survivor with disabilities in his native country. This led the artist to raise funds to purchase a wheelchair and deliver it to Ibrahim, helping to fulfill the boy’s dream of freedom. “My own goal is to create bridges between communities and across cultures. The Santa Fe community helped me fulfill that goal and showed that by taking simple, yet practical steps each day, we can make dreams a reality.”
Soulful Presence was founded by Marcie Davis, a Santa Fe businesswoman and activist who also advocates for people with disabilities in the US and abroad. The two organizations joined forces after Nyaphaga came to Santa Fe for an artist’s residency program at the Art Institute.
The plan is to return to Cameroon next June with enough funding to supply even more wheelchairs. As they did with this trip, Soulful Presence, and their partner, HITIP will also be bringing basic school supplies for children as well as medical supplies for a local surgeon who provides free medical treatment to remote villages.
Watch for upcoming fundraisers, including a concert to be produced with local radio station KBAC. For more information, or to make donations, visit www.soulfulpresence.org.
About Soulful Presence and Hope International for Tikar People (HITIP)
Soulful Presence’s mission is to empower underserved populations by creating awareness and advancing policy, research, education, and social action.
HITIP is a nonprofit, community based organization established to improve the quality of life for marginalized indigenous Tikar and Pygmy people in Cameroon, Africa.
Soulful Presence (www.soulfulpresence.org) and HITIP (www.hitip.org) have united to improve the quality of life for Tikar and Pygmy people with disabilities in Cameroon. Together, we are committed to delivering quality, appropriate medical equipment and supplies thus encouraging increased self-reliance and economic independence
For more information contact: Marcie Davis at 505.982.1977.