From Mobility Worldwide: Providing Dignity Through Mobility:
May 11, 2018
By Rachel Knight

Imagine you are in the Congo in Africa. You’re walking through high grass when suddenly the grass around you begins to part. You look down nervously to see what might be headed your way. To your surprise, a woman crawling with a baby on her back and a couple of children walking by her side reaches up and asks you for help. You have nothing to help her. For Larry Hills, this was not merely imagination but an experience that inspired the beginning of a global mobility project — Mobility Worldwide.

After meeting this woman and seeing her need first hand, Hills discussed with a friend in Columbia, Missouri, Reverend Mel West. West contacted Earl Miner, a friend and inventor. After hearing Hills story, Miner began designing a hand-cranked wooden mobility cart for disabled people in developing countries. His design was beta tested in Africa, and has been produced in America and distributed to developing countries around the world by Mobility Worldwide ever since.

The woman Hills encountered in the Congo was just one of millions of people who have spent their lives crawling on the ground, constantly using crutches, and relying on their families to accomplish menial tasks. The UN predicts there are at least 70 million people in the world who have disability problems with no means of transportation.

Mobility Worldwide hopes to combat this problem. Today, they ship carts to 101 countries and have shops across the United States. The first shop in Texas has been operating out of Bryan since 2009.

According to Margot Newcomb, Mobility Worldwide Brazos Valley’s shop manager, 36 volunteers cut wood, shape steel, weld, and partially assemble mobility carts three days a week in the Brazos Valley.

“We have volunteers — senior volunteers and veterans and inmates from the woman’s prison — who have the satisfaction of working and contributing to society,” Newcomb says about her Mobility Worldwide team. “The friendships and the social contact are very important to us all.”

Colin Wilkinson, chairman of the MWBV Board, points out that in addition to providing an outlet for social interaction MWBV volunteers benefit from the program spiritually.

“We have a satisfaction that we are doing God’s mission, God’s work,” Wilkinson says. “He wants us to be disciples, and that’s what we’re doing. We’re helping others. We’re helping the needy people.”

MWBV is a multi-denominational Christian based organization, according to Newcomb. The spiritual part of the work done at MWBV is seen both in the volunteers and the recipients of the carts made at MWBV. “In the social structure of the world, these [recipients] are the people on the lowest rung,” she says. “So we are truly helping the least of these.”

Wilkinson points out that people with disabilities in underdeveloped countries spend their lives looked down upon, literally. People born with a physical disability are seen as detriments to society. Providing them with a mobility cart gives them dignity.

“Providing mobility means that they can become part of society and they’re no longer dependent upon their families to help them get around,” Wilkinson says. “They can go to school. They can go to work. They can build a business. They can carry their yard tools and their babies in the back.”

Occasionally, MWBV hears from recipients of their carts. This was the case for Zippy, a woman Wilkinson delivered a cart to in Kenya. Wilkinson had just put together a cart when Zippy came by on crutches. He offered her a cart, and she tried it out. She was delighted when Wilkinson informed her she could keep it. Wilkinson learned that she worked at the disability center in the hospital.

Six months later, Wilkinson heard from Zippy. “I need to tell you that I no longer have my cart,” Wilkinson recalls Zippy saying. “There was an old gentleman who came into the disability center the other day without any legs. I gave him my cart.’”

In addition to building mobility carts, MWBV also raises funds in order to build and ship the carts. A shipping container holds about 180 mobility carts and costs an average of $54,000 to build and ship.

Wilkinson says MWBV always has room for one more volunteer, but primarily needs help funding their work. More information can be found at

MWBV is closing in on their 3,000th cart. Newcomb says they are proud of the work they do and the difference it makes.

“It changes a life,” Newcomb says. “It changes a family. It changes a community.”