Demoting herself was one of the best moves Veronica Hache ever made. In October 2012, she stepped down from her position as assistant director of rehab services at Delaware County Memorial Hospital. “I missed the clinical aspect of working with patients,” she says. “That’s what I love to do. So now I’m just a physical therapist.”
Not quite. Hache volunteers with Wheels for the World, a program of Joni and Friends, an international Christian ministry that has delivered more than 63,000 wheelchairs to people in 105 countries. “In many Third World countries, people with neurological disorders or spinal cord injuries—even people who need hip replacements—can’t afford wheelchairs,” says Hache. “So they’re stuck in the house. Or worse, they’re stuck in dark rooms, abandoned and a source of shame for their families.”
JAF collects wheelchairs donated from all over the United States. They’re refurbished by specially trained prisoners. “The wheelchairs are sent to different countries, to people identified by churches and local groups,” Hache says. “Then, JAF sends a team to fit the chair to the individual and show them how to work it.”
That’s where Hache comes in. She’s been on missions to Peru, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic, each time seeing up to 200 patients in a single week. “In the Dominican Republic, I saw a family that traveled for seven hours using multiple means of transportation while carrying a disabled child in their arms so that he could get a wheelchair,” Hache says.