Sunday, January 3, 2016


PETs are heavy duty hand cranked personal mobility devices designed for use by the disabled in developing countries. PET is an acronym for Personal Energy Transportation.  I am a supporter and a monthly contributor of the organization that produces and distributes PETs 

I first learned about PET's from my brother-in-law.  For over 3 years now he has been volunteering at the PET assembly location in Columbia, Missouri.  PET International is a faith-based, volunteer-powered, humanitarian, and world-wide organization.  PET's mission is to provide appropriate mobility for all of God’s children in need. They work with all groups, religious or secular, and seek to provide mobility first for those in greatest need and with least resources in poor or underdeveloped countries.

PET began in 1994 when Larry Hills, a missionary in Zaire, Africa, told Pastor Mel West of the great need for three-wheeled, hand-cranked wheelchairs for victims of polio and landmines. Mel contacted Earl Miner, product designer and long-time friend and mission partner, and the process of the prototype design began.  In 1995, when prototype development was ready for field testing, four were shipped to Larry Hills with the instructions to put these in the worst place you can find, and see if they pass the test. Larry did, and the PETs did.   Since 1995 PET International has grown from Mel West's one stall garage in Columbia, Missouri to over 20 assembly locations. PETs are in use in 100 countries around the world.

The PETs are assembled by an all volunteer labor force.  The Columbia, Missouri location has about 90 volunteers.  My brother-in-law works there a couple of hours a day.  Many of the volunteers work just an hour or two a week, but this all volunteer work force produced and shipped over 1600 PET's in 2015.  Since 1995, over 53,000 PET's have been built and distributed.

On a recent visit, my brother-in-law took me on a tour of the PET facilities.  I was intrigued by a sign on the wall there.  It says that more than 21,000,000 persons in the world must crawl upon the ground or be carried about because of polio, landmines, leprosy, birth defects, war and work injuries, infection, diabetes and similar causes. If those persons were all put in a line it would be a line of crawling persons 28,000 miles long.  PET seeks to shorten that line.

He showed me the entire process.  Each PET is hand-built by all volunteer labor.  Some of the assemblies are manufactures off site, but each PET is assembled in the building.  My brother-in-law assembles the front fork assemblies.

I find the PET organization fascinating.  They focus on helping a group of people that have been neglected.  Each PET is hand built by a team of volunteers who take time out of their lives to make sure that as many people as possible are given the gift of mobility.  Even though all of the labor is donated there are lots of costs associated with the project and donations are appreciated.  Donations can be made on their website.

PETs are distributed all over the world, and are now in use in over 100 countries.  While I was touring the facilities I took a photo of a white board showing recent shipments that gives and idea of the scope of the project.

PET International is an amazing charity that started with one man learning of a need and giving of himself to try to fill the need.  He had one goal; making life better for the poverty-stricken, neglected, rejected and disenfranchised of the world.  Even though he knew that one man couldn't help everyone in need, he knew he could help someone.  Instead of being overwhelmed by the large numbers of people in the world who need help with mobility, an estimated 20 million,   Mel West and all of those PET volunteers are making a difference in as many lives as they can. They can help even more people with your help.

PET international works hand in hand with many charitable organizations.  PET's are provided at no cost to any agencies that will:

1. Send a preliminary request to PET MO Columbia outlining the nature and extent of the need.

2. That agency will then be sent a more detailed application and begin the communication regarding a possible shipment of PETs.

3. If the application is approved and a shipment is made PET will expect the receiving agency to arrange and pay for shipping from the USA coast to the point of need.

4. As distribution is made, provide PET with the names of each recipient and a brief comment about the nature of their need.

5. Send PET photos of 20% of the recipients.

6. Continue in communication with PET as partners in the provision of mobility.

In one of the articles that founder Mel West wrote about PET he included this quote.   “We all participate in weaving the social fabric; we should therefore all participate in patching the fabric when it develops holes.” Anne C. Weisberg

If you want to help this very worthy charity you can do so by clicking here.

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