Thomas C. Kantha
1999winners international contributions
Repaired, reconditioned, and donated to his home country of South Africa 2,000 wheelchairs
Thomas C. Kantha

Born: 1948; from: South Africa

Award summary

For the past five years, Mr. Kantha has been collecting discarded wheelchairs, repairing them into perfect condition by fixing flat tires, removing rust and changing damaged parts, and presenting them for use by the handicapped people in the Republic of South Africa, his home country. He makes shipments four times a year. He defrays the cost of shipment, which is about 250,000 yen, by the sales of a collection of his poems and soliciting public donations. Recently, he found cooperators in the repair and safekeeping of wheelchairs. The cumulative total of wheelchairs he has shipped is nearly 2,000. The recipients in the Republic of South Africa are three major organizations. In that country, there are many physically handicapped people because of poverty and the aftereffect of apartheid. He continues the donations with the wish to give wheelchairs to as many people as possible.

Reasons for this award

While living in Japan, he has found wheelchairs in good condition discarded here and there. He began to repair those wheelchairs and donate them to the physically handicapped people in his home country as a solitary endeavor. The number of wheelchairs donated by him has reached a significant figure. In addition, he extends guidance to the Japanese residents of the district where he lives about how to repair wheelchairs and is also engaged in other recycling activities. His activities are a warning to the Japanese who are accustomed to throwing away still usable goods.

Comments from the winner

The repair of wheelchairs has now been taken up in school classes and volunteers' field practices. If you use a wheelchair, you will feel the need of such things as ramps (instead of stairs). Because the wheelchairs are gifts, you will understand how important it is to clean them and make them look good before shipment instead of merely presenting them.With the conviction that an important aspect of human society is mutual help, I want to appeal to you at lecture meetings, etc. Then, the seeds we sow will grow into big trees.