In October of 2010 Special Needs Group donated a new transport wheelchair to 12-year old, Rita de Santos of Ceara, Brazil. Rita, a child born with both physical and mental disabilities, and her mother, Tieta, live alone in the barrio community of Favela dos Cocos. Tieta works various odd jobs including cleaning houses and vending on the streets to provide her daughter and her with bare essentials. In order for Tieta to arrive at her jobs, to take Rita to the hospital or to visit neighbors, Tieta and her friends would physically have to carry Rita.
Tieta had requested assistance from local charities and radio stations for a wheelchair but her requests were met with no avail. In the fall of 2010, Special Needs Group learned of the de Santos’ family’s plight from Grace Plebaniak. Grace had a home in the small community, knew the family and explained the situation to President and CEO of Special Needs Group, Andrew J. Garnett. “We heard about Rita’s predicament and wanted to help,” explained Andrew. “Rita has an amazing fighting spirit and is truly inspirational. We were so happy we could help make their lives easier by donating a wheelchair."
Grace surprised Tieta and Rita with the wheelchair, which they graciously accepted. “Rita was smiling from ear to ear. She is unable to speak but you could tell from her facial expressions and body language that she was thrilled with her gift,” stated Grace. The donated wheelchair has immensely helped ease the de Santos’ family lifestyle. The wheelchair has helped Tieta perform more everyday tasks and has also provided her with more opportunities to find work as she no longer has to carry Rita and can work at places that are farther away.
Studies estimate that about 22 percent of Brazil’s population lives below the poverty line. Additionally, there are some 14.5 to 15 million Brazilians with disabilities.