‘Makes a world of difference’: Richmond organization sends prosthetic lab to Solomon Islands

The idea came to the Mission Gait Foundation through a conversation four years ago
Published: Feb. 3, 2023 at 6:31 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 3, 2023 at 7:03 PM EST
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POWHATAN, Va. (WWBT) - A Richmond organization transformed a shipping container into a prosthetic and orthotic lab with a mission to help thousands of people in the Solomon Islands.

“This will change the lives of so many people,” said Carolyn Lawrence, one of the founders of the Mission Gait Foundation.

Lawrence said the idea for the project came to life through a conversation.

“About four years ago, we had someone come to the Mission Gait Foundation, who is an amputee from the Solomon Islands,” she said. “In working with him, we discovered the problem that they have in the country as far as not having access to prosthetics.”

After this conversation, Lawrence said they started working on the project for the medical lab. Inside the container, the Mission Gait Foundation set up a medical lab with supplies and tools to create artificial limbs.

A prosthetic lab is looking to make a difference in the Solomon Islands.
A prosthetic lab is looking to make a difference in the Solomon Islands.(Source;WWBT | WWBT)

“When you walk in, there’s lights, there’s counters, there’s workbenches,” said Jeff Allen, who is moving to the Solomon Islands to help with this initiative. “There’s an oven, and so there’s a process that they go through to make a prosthetic.”

Allen will be on the ground to help launch this effort.

“It’s all going to be people from Solomon Islands, locally, that are going to be doing the prosthesis and the physical therapy, so we’re going to go over there and train them,” he said.

A project the foundation hopes will become a model for future initiatives.

“If this works and goes well, we could be making more of these to send to other countries around the world that are in need,” said Lawrence.

On Friday, crews picked up the shipping container for its journey to the Kilu’ufi Hospital on the island of Malaita.

Lawrence hopes this project will make a difference.

“Very small things that we take for granted are life-changing for them,” she said. “We are so fortunate here in the United States with what we are able to obtain and to see other countries, and they’re putting together makeshift devices, trying to do the basics of walking. Being able to provide for their families. It just makes a world of difference in their life.”

The shipping container is expected to arrive in the Solomon Islands sometime between the end of March and April.