January 11, 2017
Salute to SafariSeat – An ingenious all-terrain wheelchair for the disabled in developing countries
London-based social enterprise Uji recently came up with an innovative and highly durable wheelchair for the disabled inhabiting developing countries. Named SafariSeat, this all-terrain wheelchair happens to be Uji’s first project.
A social enterprise company having resolved to make a real, honest difference, Uji operates on open-source principles. Their chief philosophy and ultimate objective is to design tools to pull people out of the poverty web, and help the disabled live independent, dignified lives.
In cognisance of the fact that 1 person in every 200 people in East Africa requires a wheelchair and gets confined by his/her disability, designer Janna Deeble, a Kenyan citizen, returned to the country in 2015 after studying abroad, to develop this unique wheelchair. Deeble’s inspiration culminated into designing the brilliant SafariSeat after he met a Samburu man named Letu, disabled with polio since birth, permitting him only to crawl and making him completely dependent on others. Deeble noticed Letu’s lack of access to good healthcare, appropriate wheelchairs or any other critical medical assistance. Deeble further understood the depth of the situation when in his early years, he himself suffered an accident that left him wheelchair-bound for months.
What sets SafariSeat apart from regular wheelchairs is its use of a simple (patent pending) mechanism akin to a car suspension, which allows all the wheels to stay firmly on the ground at all times, rendering maximum stability. SafariSeat can easily move through rough terrain, offers enhanced biomechanical efficiency and is equipped with pump levers to move and control it – The top lever is for power, the bottom allows speed control. Further, there is only a mild pressure shift as one rides the wheelchair, and blood flow is stimulated too, significantly lowering risks of pressure damage and pressure sores.
In addition to making this special wheelchair a low cost and open-source solution, Deeble will also make SafariSeat’s blueprints absolutely free, which will function as part of an open source toolkit/manual enabling even the most basic workshops to manufacture these wheelchairs using bicycle parts, for use in the local community. Apart from assisting people with disabilities, this will also open up opportunities for sustainable employment. SafariSeat is easy to repair too.
After the initial launch of a £30,000 crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to develop SafariSeat last October, Uji has now successfully surpassed its original target by an impressive £16,000. These additional funds will be used to build more such wheelchairs, set up a higher number of workshops and a disability outreach programme to make SafariSeat accessible to people in East Africa’s remotest areas, says Deeble.
Janna Deeble hopes his brainchild will set several others free from their disabilities, just like Letu.