Environmental barriers impacting access

A young man from the Solomon Islands sits in his new wheelchair and smiles at the camera.

Charlie is a musician from Ngalitatai in Honiara, Solomon Islands. Motivation Australia was really pleased to visit him at home, at the end of 2018. As a teenager, Charlie had an accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury and he now uses a wheelchair for all of his mobility.

A woman from the Solomon Islands in a bright yellow t'shirt walks down a steep set of stairs from a wooden house on stilts whilst another woman in blue waits at the bottom. The house is surrounded by tropical vegetation.

Charlie is a keyboard player and singer who likes to write and record his own music. His music is played on the local FM radio station and he also performs at concerts run by the radio station. As well as his music, Charlie is involved in the disabled youth meetings run through People with Disabilities Solomon Islands (PWDSI) and has travelled to Fiji to be involved in international meetings.

Unfortunately, when we visited Charlie at home with his local service provision team, he had not been able to leave his house for three months because his wheelchair was broken. It could not be used safely in or outside of his home.

Charlie has a supportive family and community, and so he was able to borrow a wheelchair to help him move around inside, however the borrowed wheelchair was not safe to use outside because of damaged rear wheels and castors.

Access to Charlie’s house is very difficult and requires travelling down a steep embankment, crossing over a river (knee deep and fast flowing during our visit), and going up very steep stairs with no hand rail.
This means that he requires assistance from his friends and family when he wants to leave the house. Any rain also makes access to the road impossible due to slippery paths and rising river levels. Therefore, Charlie has to consider the weather and potential for rain before leaving his house.

Grace is leaning over to check the wheel on Charlie's new wheelchair.

During the visit, along with in-country partner staff and the Community Based Rehabilitation team (Grace, Angela and Ruth), we were able to provide Charlie with a new Motivation Active wheelchair. Although he has a very committed local service provider, it can be very difficult for the service to get the funding they need to travel out to see people. Because it was so difficult for Charlie to visit the service, it took several months for a solution for him.

With the provision of his new wheelchair, Charlie was looking forward to getting out of the house and visiting the PWDSI offices and the radio station. An appropriate, safe wheelchair enables Charlie to once again access his community, his rights and get back to his life! Motivation Australia was pleased to have Charlie attend the Pacific Rehabilitation and Mobility Conference to represent PWDSI in Fiji, earlier this year, where it was great to see him STILL mobile, active and independent – and able to advocate for others.


Motivation Australia acknowledges the valuable contribution of the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP) to this project. We also acknowledge the support provided by the Latter-day Saint Charities (LDSC), who continue to support wheelchair service in the Solomon Islands through the donation of appropriate mobility devices. Our visit to the Solomon Islands and this activity was part of our Pacific MDS Project.

Spinal Cord Injury Awareness week

From September the 2nd to September the 8th we are sharing stories and information about SCIs. Many people with spinal injuries like Charlie rely on assistive technology and rehabilitation to regain independence and live a higher quality of life after their injury. By donating to Motivation Australia you can help provide the support and services necessary for people with spinal cord injuries to thrive – and to ensure they have the opportunities to share their talents with the world. Please donate here.