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Challenge? HELP Haiti Answered

Several summers ago working for with my church mission team we happened across this project that needed volunteers call the P.E.T. http://www.giftofmobility.org/what_is_pet.htm Project which stands for personal energy transport.  They build these 3 wheeled carts with hand cranks for 3rd world countries to help with those people who have lost the use of their legs.  These people do not have the luxury of 30,000 electric wheel chairs, mater of fact most of them are limited to crawling.  They are distributed to countries around the world and they are built so they can travel off pavement. 

Our team spent a week in a workshop in Lulling Texas.  I saw this complicated process of taking some existing bike parts and then fabricating the rest out of wood or metal.  This seemed incredibly inefficient at the time to me.  I always wanted to revisit how these things were built using more off the shelf components and less fabrication because it seemed to me that while building a couple of these was a good idea that building a lot of these was not always the best use of man power, supplies, and money. 

So it occurred to me that perhaps with all of the soon to be disabled in Haiti that now is the time to step up, now is the time to look for a better way.   So the very loose guidelines that I was thinking about was that we have too many bikes going to the dump every day in this country, what if we could find a way to take existing bikes and break down their parts for new PET's and could also find a reproducible manner of manufacturing frames and reconfiguring these parts.  Not everyone is a welder, not everyone is a Maker, but almost anyone can see an abandoned bike and take it apart for usable parts and send them to someone who can.So what do you think…


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10 years ago

One of the key factors in this admirable project will be transporting them to Haiti.

Rather than produce these vehicles scattered all over the world, I think it would be wise to contact whoever is coordinating the relief effort (do they know who is in charge yet?), and asking what they need most and quickest that world-wide Makers could provide.

For instance, I would suggest that a supply of clean water is more urgent than personal transport for people who will be confined to bed for some weeks yet.


Reply 10 years ago

I would agree that clean water is more urgent right now but the Baptist Men already have portable water filters on the ground and there is shipments of food and water coming in everyday.  So unless we can come up with clean water or a method of cleaning water that is better, cheaper, and more available than what is already being done the soulution would take longer to facilitate than that problem will exist (for Haiti)

Transportation on the other hand is going to be an ongoing problem for these people for the rest of their lives and they will not need it for some months to come, hence a solution that could be timed with the need that we know is coming.  I have been brainstorming about this since it happened and all of the needs I could come up with (short of cash) required planning and forthought and knowing who was in charge, and they still don't know.  Tents were left at the airport for a week because they didnt have a plan on where to set them up and they didnt want makeshift tent cities going up everywhere.

I know that when we were making them in Luling there were being shipped by ocean freight containers so they didnt ship until they had a full container, and they packed the containers with anything and everything.  Instead of packing materials they used clothes which were also distributed.