He parks his pickup truck near a house in Al Khoudh, knocks on the door and waits in patience. Khalid Al Sharji collects a wheelchair from the homeowner and gently lifts it, strapping it to the trunk, and off he goes.
In a shabby garage in Al Mudhaibi, a town in Al Sharqiyah, Khalid sits for untold hours to repair wheelchairs.
Years ago, when he knew about his brother’s disability, Khalid Al Sharji, 33, bought him a wheelchair. Not long after, the chair needed maintenance.
Being a job-seeker, the young man couldn’t afford to pay for the repairment. “It was hard to watch my brother confined to his room,” he said.
To fight what he calls a “monopoly in Oman’s market,” Khalid learned the craft through online video tutorials .
“In Oman, any spare parts or maintenance will cost a wheelchair user at least RO250,” says Khalid.
Now, he offers his services to families across Oman as he travels across wilayats to receive faulty wheelchairs to diagnose the problem and fix it for dirt-cheap prices.
“Most of the time, the faults are basic. I just order some spare parts and change the batteries. It takes me between 3-6 hours to repair a broken wheelchair,” he said. However, some repairs take more time and effort.
“Wheelchairs can cost between RO500 to RO4,000. Some brands can be sold for RO8,000. Many families in Oman have more than two broken wheelchairs at home because they couldn’t afford the repairment cost,” he explains.
Asked if he would ever stop his wheelchair repair services once he finds a full-time job, Khalid said: “There’s no way I would ever stop doing this. Seeing the gratefulness in the eyes of wheelchair-users and their families is what keeps me going.”
He says that people in Oman should be better informed about the types and brands of wheelchairs.
“Charities in Oman give a standard size chair that doesn’t fit all sizes and weights. Most of these chairs have a short life-span and need constant maintenance,” he adds.
Khalid’s passion and goodwill has paid off. And with Oman’s aging population, his services are more needed than ever.