Tuesday, 29 July 2014

... and they're off! A visit to HSB's Welding Workshop

On Friday, the HSB team headed across Ouagua to visit one of our important partners, the Welding Workshop… 

Changing lives – The welders who work at HSB's atelier are living with disabilities. They understand the importance of personalised mobility aids and the dramatic difference a correctly adapted wheelchair or tricycle can make to someone’s life.

Ergonomics – The first wheelchair model was brought over by a Dutch engineer and from this the workshop was able to use this to begin their production line. The team currently produce around 15 wheelchairs a month (and more if they don’t sleep!). They recently completed an order of 75 in just six weeks! Before each wheelchair is welded together users are encouraged to visit the workshop and have their chair adapted to their unique needs.

Materials – The welders were proud to say that they only use raw materials that come from Burkina Faso, and also recuperate second-hand metals, for example old bikes, in order to reduce costs and the impact on the environment.

Diversification – The team are always looking for ways to diversify their production and offer the latest innovations to customers. Alongside wheelchair production the workshop is also equipped to adapt motorbikes to tricycles which requires enormous amounts of precision and supports the mobility of people with disabilities in and around Ouagadougou.

Now we have a good understanding of their work, the team are looking forward to going back next week to learn more and maybe even have a go ourselves!

The Team: Tankoano, Cedric, Ali, Blake, Ross, Flic, Emma and Kabre

Other highlights from this week:

We took part in our first tennis training session with help from the Paralympic team, which we all enjoyed immensely. Wheelchair tennis was harder than anyone expected as the coaches from the Paralympic team soon discovered; we gave it our all and wiping the sweat from our brows we will be returning with Moïse and Oumar next Wednesday!
Firsts all round: Oumar and Jack during their first ever wheelchair tennis session
Wednesday also featured a group discussion led by Cedric and Tankoano. This involved some great activities which encouraged us to think about the way we learn, for example, a visual memory game with coloured post-it notes emphasised that despite the language barrier we are constantly learning through our eyes. The session was conducted in English which made it a really good language exchange at the same time! This got the full group involved with the discussion of the topic “ICS and You”, which covered planning, problem solving and the benefits of team work. Well done to Cedric and Tankoano for setting such a high bar for the first group discussion!

We were joined on our placement by Kat, a past volunteer who returned to HSB as an independent volunteer for a few weeks this summer. It had been two years since Kat completed her ICS placement and she was really excited to see the all progress that has been made. On Friday this week we sadly waved her off as she set off for travels in Ghana. We would like to say a big thank you to Kat for all her help during her time here!

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