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Krish; a Trini philanthropist easing mobility for the physically challenged in Gambia

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Krishendath Roopnarine, or simply Krish, is from Trinidad and Tobago, a small dual-island Caribbean nation known for its distinctive Creole traditions and cuisines.

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He moved to Canada in 2010 and, with the challenges he left behind still fresh in his mind, Krish found a way to help the underprivileged.

“I came from a family who have a strong passion for helping less fortunate people. I grew up among very poor people and when I came to Canada, I realised people dispose wheelchairs with just small breakage. I knew these wheelchairs mean a lot and they would be helpful for those who cannot afford it,” he said.

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Krish, 57, then devised a way to repair these wheelchairs and give them to societies that need it. This is how it all started for him. Now, not only does he ship wheelchairs worldwide for the physically challenged, many other essential equipment; beds, mattresses, clothing, computers, are also donated.  

“I started with one wheelchair, then two and more. I collected them but I didn’t have any money to repair them. So, I would scrap one or two to get a new one. Shipping also became a problem because even when people donate these wheelchairs, it’s expensive to ship them to their intended destinations,” he added.

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Krish didn’t however stop. He decided to write letters to ministries of health about the availability of wheelchairs. The health ministries then got in touch with their various ambassadors in Canada to facilitate the shipping. That worked. And Krish’s philanthropism was born.

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“But I always maintain that these items are not for sale. They are free and must be given to those in need of them. That is why I also insist on video and picture documentary to prove delivery”

The first lucky destination was Saint Vincent, which received 20 wheelchairs.

The adage ‘the more you give the more you receive’ could not be truer for Krish. More people started giving him the items because they trust him.

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From Saint Vincent, Sierra Leone to Liberia, hundreds of people receive the items with a smile, appreciative of the gesture.

Krish doesn’t just pick the beneficiary countries at random. “I do my own research on countries based on poverty and health care delivery, accessibility and affordability. That is how I picked The Gambia as well.”

Krish said he first contacted the Ministry of Health about the wheelchairs and other materials. However, nothing was forthcoming.

“I then found the Gambian association in Canada and spoke to one Mr Lamin Conteh about these materials. He told me he would speak to members of the association about it and he did. He visited my home and he was excited about the materials.”

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With the help of the Gambian Youth Development Association in Canada, in January, Krish was able to ship at least 50 wheelchairs, mattresses and other equipment to various institutions in The Gambia worth D1.6 million. The materials were then redistributed to Tanka Tanka Psychiatric facility and to children with Down Syndrome.

The joy on the faces of the beneficiaries is indescribable. Accessing wheelchairs in The Gambia is a nightmare. This has affected mobility for the physically challenged and, in some instances, condemned others to their homes without moving about like everyone else.

Link to the video of the first donation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y3yr_8H6gO0

But, according to Krish, he is happier than the beneficiaries.

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“There is no word that can capture the feeling. It is a divine feeling. It is a godly feeling.”

Krish already plans to ship another 70 wheelchairs, mattresses, and other needed equipment to The Gambia.

If everything goes to plan, the former salesman intends on continuing his philanthropic work across the world together with his family.

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