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The Laurita Spina Bifida Project raises funds to donate wheelchairs for children in Tanzania

 

The Laurita Spina Bifida Project (The LSB Project) launched an online fundraiser on November 29th, which was #GivingTuesday, with the goal of purchasing orthotic equipment for children and youth in Tanzania who live with spina bifida.

Partnering with the Association of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Tanzania (ASBAHT), The LSB project hopes to donate several wheelchairs, walkers, and a prosthetic leg for a young girl, to people in dire need of mobility equipment. (Click here to donate and share the fundraiser.)

“Over the past year, we have been humbled to be able to share on our Facebook page the stories of several individuals and families living with spina bifida, particularly in African nations including Tanzania,” Laurita Tellado, Founder and President of The LSB Project, said. “As we enter the holiday season, which is all about giving, our hearts are inspired to think about those who lack the luxuries and comforts we take for granted, like a wheelchair or walker for a person who needs them.”

“Though I had friends with SBH, I never knew their condition,” explained Sifa Sylvia, Administrative Officer for ASBAHT. “I used to think it was just a physical disability. What interested me even most during my encounter with ASBAHT was the knowledge of folic acid and early prevention. That time, I felt like my brain was opened. My perspective of thinking changed. I felt the urge to know more about SBH, because this problem is big in Tanzania and the society relates the condition to witchcraft, [a] curse, etc.”

Tellado had the opportunity to meet several officers of ASBAHT at the Turning Points conference in Ghent, Belgium, which was organized by the International Federation of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus.

“It was such an honor for me to meet some leaders of ASBAHT recently, and they immediately extended their friendship to me,” Tellado said. “One of them gave me a bracelet with the colors of the Tanzanian flag. It was such a beautiful, symbolic gesture of what is now a partnership— helping each other in strengthening our spina bifida and hydrocephalus communities. The work they do for their members, being actively involved in the health care and treatment of people with SBH, is so important and deserves our support. That’s why our #Give5ToThrive fundraising campaign was launched.”

The LSB Project is encouraging supporters to give donations of at least $5 at their fundraising page, and to share on social media using #Give5ToThrive, to remind everyone that no contribution is too small to make a difference.

Sylvia and several ASBAHT families have shared their stories with The LSB Project, particularly highlighting the negative stigma surrounding disability in communities in Tanzania.

“We as an association face some major challenges, especially in finances, because we depend and rely on one donor- International Federation for Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus,” Sylvia said. “Tanzania has very few hospitals that treat children with SBH because of [a] lack of knowledge and economic hardship. Plus, these hospitals are not sufficient enough to accommodate children with SBH (availability of surgeons, medical tests, and equipment). Community awareness about SBH is poor, and others feel ashamed and hide their children.”

In addition to their active fundraiser on Indiegogo’s Generosity platform, The LSB Project hopes to partner with other organizations or companies that would be willing to sponsor mobility equipment for members of ASBAHT.

“One of my strongest beliefs is that ‘it takes a village’ to make anything important happen, and you will not find a better example of that philosophy than the bonds of friendship that span many countries, continents, and time zones between ASBAHT and The LSB Project. Our village is just a bit wider than most.”