COLUMBIA — Thirty wheelchairs are on their way to Haiti for people who need them.
The wheelchairs were sent almost a month before the devastating earthquake Jan. 12, which has resulted in about 70,000 deaths, according to Haiti's prime minister. PETMO-Columbia, the not-for-profit organization that sends Personal Energy Transportation or PETS to those in need, does not know if the shipment has arrived in the country.
The wheelchairs are three-wheeled, hand-cranked vehicles that are made to be used in rocky or rough environments. They were produced in Columbia by PETMO-Columbia, a volunteer-run affiliate of PET International Inc. PETs are also produced at the group's affiliates in 14 other locations.
Mel West, director of PETMO-Columbia, said that the company is currently “making long range plans” to send more PETs to Haiti. PETMO-Columbia and their affiliates began sending PETs to Haiti in 2000. Since then about 15 shipments have been sent, West said.
The shipment, which left Columbia on Dec. 9, was sponsored by the Northwest Haiti Christian Mission based in Frankfort, Ky. Although the shipment was made before the earthquake, West said the wheelchairs may go to earthquake victims who have had leg amputations.