Western Region Volunteers See MedShare’s Impact Firsthand at Hospital in Tanzania

From the moment that Medshare volunteers [in the Western Region] decided to raise the funds to ship a 40-foot container of medical supplies to Shirati, Tanzania, and I found out there was a possibility that volunteers could go to visit the hospital, I knew I wanted to be one of those volunteers. I actively participated in the fundraising for the container, contributing to the silent auction both in purchases and donations and also asking my friends and family for donations. And then my dream became reality as two other volunteers Fran Jurcso, Camille Harris, and I began our plans to travel to the hospital.

As we drove down the 18 miles of dirt road, four hours from the closest airport, we knew we were definitely in a very rural area. Dr. Chirangi welcomed us the day we arrived and took us on a tour of the hospital.

Our welcome to KMT Hospital.

Our welcome to KMT Hospital.

He pointed out all the equipment the hospital had received from Medshare in their previous shipment and excitedly showed us where all the new equipment would be going from the soon to be received container. Dr. Chirangi told us of all his immediate plans for additions to the hospital, and I realized what a difference receiving the supplies from Medshare would make to allow other money to go into the infrastructure of the hospital to meet more of their needs.

As we continued our tour and reached the different wards, I became very aware of the different experience one would have being hospitalized here rather than at home in the United States. There were simply four wards in the main hospital: men’, women, pediatric, and maternity. Each ward was simply one big room with barely an aisle to walk in between the beds.

The Pediatric Ward at KMT Hospital.

The Pediatric Ward at KMT Hospital.

There were no privacy curtains, patients were wearing their own clothes, visiting family members sat on the patients’ beds, and as the doctors examined incisions etc. the patient was exposed for all to see. Those recovering or waiting for surgery may be right next to someone with a contagious disease. The pediatric ward was so crowded we learned, that often they have to have two children per bed. Mosquito netting hung from the ceilings and the window openings had no glass in order to provide air circulation.

The highlight of the trip for me was when Dr. Chirangi invited us into the operating theatre to observe a surgery. After we put on our booties and masks (items I have sorted at MedShare) along with our scrubs we headed into the surgery room. It was early and the air conditioning had not yet been turned on. Shirati Blog Photos 4-Final-BlogWe had heard many stories about the surgery room with the leaking anesthesia machine, which is why there was a new one on the shipment about to arrive.

What we didn’t realize was that we would experience what it was like to be in the room with the leaky anesthesia machine. Before completely embarrassing myself by fainting and giving them an additional patient, I simply left the room a bit green and went and got some fresh air. By the time the second surgery began, the air conditioning was on and I could handle it.

The one sterilization machine used at the hospital, donated by MedShare.

The one sterilization machine used at the hospital, donated by MedShare.

It was amazing to watch all the medical supplies I have sorted the last two years of volunteering in action and see first hand what a difference it makes: the bovies and tips, the gauze, the scalpels, the sutures, etc., etc. We watched Dr. Chirangi remove an ovarian cyst the size of a small avocado, repair an umbilical hernia, and remove an appendix all from the same patient in about 30 minutes. He even asked Fran to hand him the #4 Vicryl sutures, which of course she knew from her sorting experience.

The news of the container arriving soon, had reached the community and everyone knew who we were as soon as we said we volunteered at Medshare. While we were there we had time to explore the community a bit and found wherever we walked, we soon had children following us, walking with us, talking to us and holding our hands. Everyone in the community was so friendly and welcoming and it made us wish it could be like that back home rather than fearing strangers. The children loved having us take their pictures with our digital cameras and showing it to them, as at home they had no mirrors and didn’t know what they looked like. In fact on our walk from where we stayed to the hospital, (about a half mile) we passed houses that had no indoor plumbing, no electricity, and no running water. We saw how much of the community lives and how families work hard, simply to survive. We saw students walking miles to and from school each day, women walking miles to Lake Victoria to carry water home, (on their head), and we went to the market to see how they buy their food.

When we left for Shirati, we believed we were going to visit the hospital, but little did we know that we would fall in love with people of the community and want to continue to help them. This trip was an amazing opportunity to see firsthand what our efforts at Medshare do for the communities around the world. It showed us how important it is for us to let others know about Medshare whether they are possible volunteers,  recipients, or teams that need supplies to take with them on medical missions.

“This trip was an amazing opportunity to see firsthand what our efforts at Medshare do for the communities around the world.”

At MedShare, we have listened to stories from doctors and nurses who return from similar areas after their medical missions. As amazing as their stories are, nothing was as incredible as us being there ourselves. Not having any medical experience, we felt privileged to have the opportunity to have this experience. If the opportunity is given to you, take it.

We would like to thank MedShare and all the volunteers who made this possible for us as well as AISCS (African Immigrants Social and Cultural Services) the NGO which funded the ground transportation for this container and also hosted us during our stay in Shirati.

Nancy Menne
Volunteer, MedShare’s Western Region Distribution Center
San Leandro, California

[Editor’s Note: The 40-foot container sponsored by the MedShare Western Region volunteers arrived at Shirati, Tanzania in early March 2014. Below are some of the photos of the container’s arrival at the hospital.

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MedShare’s Western Region volunteers have just started their second fundraising project, this time for a shipment to Sierra Leone.  You can read more about this project and make a donation here: http://medshare.donorpages.com/IshaSierraLeone/donatehere/.]

MedShare CEO Attends 2014 Social Innovation Summit at United Nations in NYC

My first visit to the United Nations turned out to be a memorable one. It was the location of the 2014 Social Innovation Summit along with the JP Morgan Chase Building. The Summit represented the convergence of corporations, nonprofits, and the philanthropic community coming together to bring about social change while addressing some of the world’s most complex, yet basic issues. It truly represented the endless possibilities and results of when Business Innovation meets Social Transformation.

Over 500 participants from around the world met for two days in New York City to network and share ideas to drive innovation and garner the necessary funding to execute critical programs. There were some amazing ideas discussed, but here are a few that I would like to highlight.

The Science of Philanthropy – This further confirmed my belief that nonprofit organizations (NGOs) that understand and use data to drive their fundraising activities are, and will continue to be, the most successful ones. Countless examples were given how organizations used data to understand and appropriately cultivate the “right” potential donors. Many organizations waste a lot of time and resources cultivating the “wrong” potential donors only to end in disappointment for all involved. Also, it is key to find the right balance between the art and the science of fundraising.  Numbers often do not tell the whole story. Remember the human factor. People are very passionate about “their” cause. They give from the heart and not the head.  Another point made was that smaller NGOs should collaborate to achieve scale. Often groups may be more successful in obtaining funding because of the greater impact of the collective. Obviously, there must be mission alignment.

Reviving a Community One Brownie at a Time – The story of Greyston and the impact that this company is having on the community of Yonkers, NY, was beyond inspirational. The notion that a for profit company using nonprofit ideals to bring about social change and strengthen families and communities provides a blueprint for success that should strongly be considered by others. Greyston, known for their wonderful brownies, uses an Open Hiring Policy. You do not need a resume, application, pass a background check, or any other traditional hiring prerequisites.  Simply show up, put your name on a list and complete an internal training program.  This policy has resulted in over 50% of the workforce being former inmates. The impact this has had on their lives and the community is immeasurable.  Dion Drew, lead operator and former inmate himself, talk openly about the impact on his life they Greyston has had. Working meant being able to provide for his family and decreasing significantly the likelihood that he and others like him would return to a life of crime. The community is stronger and Greyston’s profits are soaring.

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(At right, MedShare CEO Charles Redding with Make A Stand Lemon-Aid’s founder Vivienne Harr.)

Life Is A Fleeting Story, Tell It – It is difficult to explain the feeling that came over me as I listen to Vivienne Harr, a 10 year-old  San Francisco Bay Area girl who took a stand when she was 8 years old to free 500 kids from slavery by selling lemonade for 365 days.  This meant that she would have to raise $100,000. What started as an idea to address an issue is now an official social purpose corporation. Her company, Make A Stand Lemon-Aid, gives half its profits to antislavery organizations. The key breakthrough for her and the ability to reach her goal was when she removed the price and asked people to give from the heart. This and many other successful stories follow a distinct flow – People, Places, Plot, and Purpose.

  • People – the fact that an 8 year-old girl wanted to help other children is what captured the attention of people willing to listen and then help.
  • Places – knowing that the issue was global (including the U.S.) resonated with a very wide group of people. The issue was real. “It was in my backyard.”
  • Plot – Children, slavery, say no more. Kids being sold into slavery and forced to carry rocks and perform other atrocious acts, pierces the heart of anyone with a soul.
  • Purpose – Finally, the reason for doing this – raise $100,000 to free 500 kids from slavery. The impact of doing this is much greater after you understand more about the People involved, the Places that this is occurring, and the current situation.

Many nonprofits are so proud of their mission that they do not take the time to “tell the story.” Who are the people that are impacted? Where are they located? What is the current situation and how can we help? Thank you, Vivienne for Making A Stand.  I was able to get a photo with Vivienne and the book, Make a Stand, chronicling her journey. I highly recommend it to anyone that has ever asked the question, “Why not?”

These are a few of the fascinating topics discussed, which included everything from genome sequencing to address health and environmental issues to using gaming methodology to teach young, at-risk kids how to solve complex linear equations.

The conference closed with a very inspirational story of how Victor Cruz, wide-receiver for the New York Giants, overcame personal tragedies and setbacks to rise to the top of his game.  He now gives back to the community, especially the Boys and Girls Clubs, to ensure greater opportunities and positive outcomes for youth. Actress Jessica Alba shared her passion for starting her company, Honest Company, which focuses on making amazing products without harming people or the planet.  She also gives a significant amount of her products and profits to those in need. There are so many companies that understand that it is okay to do well and to do good.

Companies present included Microsoft, Google, HP, Intel, JP Morgan Chase, and Panera Bread. My sincere thank you to Ashley Lenz and Henry Schein for inviting me to represent MedShare at such a thought-provoking, solution-minded event. The networking opportunities were incredible.  I am energized and my resolve renewed. MedShare can and will be a driving force in strengthening communities locally and globally. If an 8 year-old girl can make a stand, what will MedShare and other like-minded organizations do?

 

 

Our 2014 Annual Fund: Why Your Donation Matters

Dear Friends,
2014 Annual Fund
We appreciate all of the HANDS that help us improve the health of people around the world every day.  On behalf of our staff and recipients, we thank you from the bottom of our HEARTS. As our work continues, doctors and nurses in Sierra Leone, Kenya, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and the Philippines are anxiously waiting for us to ship healthcare resources to their villages and towns. We need to raise $150,000 by June 30, 2014 to help these healthcare professionals around the world meet this urgent demand.

Uganda

When MedShare supporters like you send Boxes of Hope, patients at healthcare institutions like this mother and child (left) at Holy Innocents Children’s Hospital in Uganda are able to use supplies specifically requested by the hospital. Please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to our Hands and Hearts in Action by before June 30, 2014.  
Consider sponsoring one of our boxes below or sending an amount of your own choosing:

$250 to sponsor 12 Boxes;    $500 to sponsor 25 Boxes
$1,000 to sponsor 50 Boxes;    $5,000 to sponsor 250 Boxes 
$10,000 to sponsor 500 Boxes;   $20,000 to sponsor 1,000 Boxes

Your donation to support our Boxes of Hope will carry more than 350,000 pounds of new and unused medical supplies to people who need them. These perfectly good supplies, which have been kept out of our local U.S. landfills, continue to help medical professionals worldwide who treat illnesses and infectious diseases in their local communities. Let’s keep working together to improve the quality of life of people, communities, and our planet

Click here to make your donation today!

With thanks,
Charles Redding, CEO and President

MedShare ships needed supplies and equipment to Congo hospital

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When MedShare’s 40-foot container of medical equipment and supplies arrived at The General Referral Hospital of Panzi (GRHP) in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the health care staff knew the items would have a major impact on their community’s quality of health care.

Panzi Hospital is located in Bukavu in the eastern part of the DRC.  A general hospital for the local population, it was founded in 1998 by human rights activist Dr. Denis Mukwege, its current medical director. Dr. Mukwege is recognized as an interntional expert in the treatment of survivors of sexual violence and women with gynecological problems resulting from reproductive trauma.

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Above: Panzi Hospital founder and medical director, Dr. Denis Mukwege (left) and a 
staff member with a patient at the hospital.

The container, one of two sponsored by the Carlo and Micol Schejol Foundation, was shipped from Oakland, CA, USA, in the summer of 2013 to the port at Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. It traveled overland through Rwanda to the hospital in Bukavu, arriving there in late November 2013.It was filled with supplies and equipment doctors at the hospital said they could use immediately. In addition to a portable X-ray unit, pulse oximeter, and an ECG machine, some of the supplies included:  aprons, aspiration canisters, bandage rolls, hypothermia blankets, blood administration sets, blood collection sets, breathing circuits, cannulas, baby caps, catheters examination gloves, sutures, and syringes.

ImageOne example of how MedShare’s supplies were used involved a patient with a severely damaged hand who came to the Panzi Hospital emergency room. Doctors knew they had never had appropriate equipment to perform the surgery that this patient needed. Using surgical instruments from MedShare, a surgeon specializing in reconstructive procedures performed the surgery necessary to save the patient’s hand. Had the patient not received this surgery, he would have been severely disabled. This man now has a chance to recover good functioning in his hand.

Using supplies from MedShare in another procedure, a surgeon was able to successfully treat an American missionary who suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome in both her hands – the first time that surgery had been performed at Panzi Hospital. It is clear from the reports that MedShare’s shipments will greatly assist the hospital’s staff as they work to improve health care in the Bukavu community.

MedShare partner shows life-saving miracles start with small packages

The J. F. Kapnek Trust has been a MedShare partner for about five years, ever since Executive Director Dan Robbins, M.D. learned about our work in the San Francisco Bay area. “I can always find a large number of medical supplies at MedShare that meet the specific needs of the patients we serve,” he noted. “For example, adult catheters are of little use if what we really need are catheters for infants and children.”

robbins-suppliesAbove: Some of the supplies Dr. Dan Robbins has received from Medshare’s Western Region Distribution Center included pediatric cannulas and IV catheters for Harare Children’s Hospital in Zimbabwe.

The J.F. Kapnek Charitable Trust operates one of the largest pediatric HIV/AIDS transmission prevention programs in Africa. Based in Harare, Zimbabwe, one of southern Africa’s most impoverished countries, the organization serves approximately 400 birthing centers and 120,000 pregnant women.

In a country with a total population of 12 million, there are an estimated 2 million AIDS orphans. Over the past 40 years, the Trust’s programs, centered at Harare Children’s Hospital, have prevented thousands of new pediatric HIV and AIDS cases each year.

A practicing pediatrician on staff at the Oakland Children’s Hospital, Dr. Robbins has been taking medical supplies to Zimbabwe to assist health care professionals for about 10 years. “It’s been a moving experience for me because I had to confront the harsh reality that children in Zimbabwe died of the same diseases we can prevent here in the United States,” he said.

Robbins said medical supplies the Trust has received from MedShare have significantly helped the work of health care professionals at Harare Children’s Hospital. “Doctors there often run out of the supplies they needed to perform critical procedures,” he added. “Our partnership with MedShare has helped doctors in Zimbabwe save lives.”

A trailer packed with preschool items, wheelchairs, and medical supplies – some of those supplies from MedShare’s Western Region Distribution Center – left the San Francisco Bay area on Monday, March 31, 2014 bound for Zimbabwe. The Trust’s work project has tremendous support from the Lafayette, California community where it maintains a small office to support its work in Zimbabwe.

robbinspic2Dr. Dan Robbins (center photo, left), with medical staff members at Harare Children’s Hospital

Dan Robbins says the J.F. Kapnek Trust hopes to sponsor a 40-foot container from MedShare in the future. “We’ll be working toward that goal,“ he added. “MedShare has been a key part of the long-term, positive impact we’re having on improving the health care of mothers, children and families in Zimbabwe.”

Click here for more information about MedShare’s medical mission team program. For more information on the work of the J.F. Kapnek Charitable trust, visit www.jfkapnektrust.org.

A generous gift for our southeast region volunteer program

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Our volunteers’ work at the Southeast Region Sorting Center in Decatur, GA will be a lot easier now thanks to a generous gift from Atlanta area volunteer Tom Jacob. Last weekend, he graciously donated 20 NEW tape guns to our Volunteer Program!

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Thank you, Tom! We greatly appreciate your support of our programs and our work! MedShare volunteers ROCK! Interested in volunteering at MedShare? Visit the Volunteer page on our website. We’d love to have you join us!

Typhoon Haiyan Relief: MedShare’s impact in the Philippines

November 8, 2013 brought an unrelenting storm to the Philippines, packing wind gusts of more than 200 miles per hour. Super Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest storms in history, ripped through the islands, damaging businesses, communities, and health care facilities, and taking thousands of Filipino lives.

As humanitarian aid began arriving in Tacloban and other locales in the immediate aftermath of the typhoon, MedShare was among the nonprofit health care organizations providing assistance to the victims and laying the groundwork for long term relief.

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Click here to read more about MedShare’s continuing impact on the humanitarian relief efforts in the Philippines as the country rebuilds after the typhoon’s devastating impact.