MedShare Needs Your Help in Responding to Alabama Tornadoes

MedShare needs your help to respond to disaster situations, both abroad and at home. One such need is in Alabama, which was devastated by tornadoes that tore through the Southeast in late April. To help MedShare respond to urgent humanitarian needs in Alabama and others like it, click here. Whether you donate $5, $50, $500, $5,000 or more, any amount will be greatly appreciated and help us deliver immediate relief.

Tornado in Alabama

While many states were affected by the recent tornadoes, Alabama received the brunt of the damages. 300 people were killed, 230 of whom were in Alabama. 6,200 single-family homes were destroyed, 5,000 were heavily damaged, and close to 300 apartment complexes were wiped off the map. More than 68,000 people have registered for disaster assistance in Alabama, and MedShare is stepping in to help.

MedShare is an organization that typically only ships containers of humanitarian aid to needy hospitals and clinics throughout the developing world. Occasionally, however, we do respond to natural disasters and domestic local needs. We did in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana, and are doing so again in response to Alabama’s disastrous tornado. Our nimbleness, flexibly, infrastructure and great relationships in the medical community make this possible, and we felt it our duty to assist when called upon by our neighbors for help. When responding to domestic situations, MedShare only sends new donated product with the permission of our manufacturer and supplier partners.

With many of the hospitals, clinics, and service organizations damaged or destroyed, there are often questions about how folks are receiving the medical attention and relief they need. In addition to the hospitals and clinics that are still operational, volunteer organizations are also providing assistance to the tornado victims. MedShare is partnering with one such organization, the Alabama Association of Volunteer Fire Departments (AAVFD), and we will be shipping two containers of much-needed medical supplies. We are also working on as many as three additional projects with similar worthwhile recipients which meet our profile standards.

Catholic Charities USA contacted the Catholic Health Association regarding AAVFD’s needs. Because of CHA’s recent work with MedShare around the responsible processing of medical surplus, they connected this group with MedShare. AAVFD is the coordinating body within the state for fire services and emergency medical services. An enormous amount of their supply inventory has been exhausted – and will continue to be – from the storms and through the coming weeks, and they desperately need donations. AAVFD has a system in place to efficiently receive and distribute supplies so that all affected regions in Alabama will be helped. Other worthwhile projects are being identified in Tuscaloosa and throughout Alabama.

Requested items include syringes, colostomy supplies, ileostomy supplies, infusion units, IV kids, oxygen masks, bandages, gauze, slings, iodine, dressings, and sutures. We are partnering with specific manufacturers on these domestic donations, all of which is new product donated specifically for this cause.

We plan to ship the first tractor-trailer load this month, and at least two additional containers in June, but we need your help to make this possible. Click here to donate toward our efforts. Any gift will be greatly appreciated and will enable MedShare to respond to this disaster situation and others, whether they strike here in the U.S. or abroad. MedShare is committed to transparency in our operations and donor relations and we will provide a report of our activities in response to this and other disaster situations.

It is thanks to supporters like you that we are able to make a difference, and we’re grateful for your help in bridging the gap between surplus and need.

(This story is an excerpt from May’s e-newsletter. To read more, including stories of a volunteer who has been with us since 2005 and a MedTeam in Peru, click here.)

Thanks to Kimberly-Clark, MedShare Ships Container of Medical Supplies for American Nicaraguan Foundation in Managua, Nicaragua

Nicaragua

On Wednesday, May 11, a 40-foot container carrying donated medical supplies and equipment for the American Nicaraguan Foundation in Managua, Nicaragua was shipped out of MedShare’s West Coast Distribution Center.  This is the fifth container that MedShare has shipped to this recipient since 2003.

The American Nicaraguan Foundation (ANF) is a 501 c (3) not-for profit organization rated as a four star charity by Charity Navigator.  Their mission is to help the neediest sectors in Nicaragua by strengthening medical assistance, increasing educational attainment, building safe shelters, providing clean water solutions, promoting economic opportunity, and delivery humanitarian aid to impoverished communities all over Nicaragua.  For more information and to view an inspirational video about their important humanitarian work, visit the ANF website here.

In Nicaragua, 1 in 2 people live in extreme poverty, 3 in 10 kids are malnourished, and there is 1 doctor for every 2,700 citizens. To say that medical supplies and equipment are lacking there would be an understatement – these items are desperately needed.

The MedShare tractor trailer size container that shipped out today is carrying over 11,000 lbs of medical humanitarian aid items, including:

  • baby care kits
  • bandages
  • surgical drapes
  • arm slings and cast materials
  • surgical masks
  • syringes
  • laryngoscopes
  • pulse oximeters
  • an infant warmer
  • and much more!

A huge thanks to the Kimberly-Clark Kimnica S.A. office in Managua and the Kimberly-Clark Foundation for making this project possible with their generous sponsorship!

Hurting People of Haiti

The day started early today, because Haiti received it’s feared most since the earthquake-rain.  During the night in between sleep and wake, I thought I felt some rain drops.  Then I was jolted out of bed by a Haitian frantically trying to move my mattress under the awning.  The next thing I knew, the bottom fell out.

The UN officers trying to control an aggressive and increasingly violent crowd.

I lay there outside, but protected from the rain.  And in the faint distance, I heard young children crying, as the sheets and sticks being used as their house, did not protect them from the heavy downpour.  I laid there praying, begging God to make the rain stop, but it seemed like the harder I prayed, the harder the rain came down.  Then, we hear a mob of people marching by our house in the rain and chanting, “I may be afraid, but I still have Jesus!”

The rain lasted on and off throughout the night and into the morning.  It cleared up just in time for the food distribution in Pastor Forges’ community.  There were 1,500 food coupons distributed the night before, but much more lined up in an aggressive mob the next morning.  Led by my group, I pushed my way through the crowd inside the gate where the distribution was to take place.  This is the first time I’ve been scared since my arrival in Haiti.

The UN arrived shortly with an army trucks carrying soldiers and all the food that was to be distributed.  Each person with a coupon got one bucket of rice and one bucket of beans.  I watched tearfully as UN officers had to use their guns and sticks to control the crowd.  It reminded me of cow herders herding cattle.  It broke my heart to see people brought to this level of desperation that they behave and are treated like animals.  This is not okay.

Once preparations were finished and the crowd was somewhat subdued, the distribution of the food went very smooth.  Until it was over, and people without tickets were trying to raid area where the leftover buckets food were that was being taken to the orphanage and the church staff.

The people exiting with their bucket of rice and beans.

One of the church staff, Cenatta, looked at me and said, “Can you help?” I eagerly said yes, so she told me to grab two buckets and run for it.  really hard to desc

ribe the next ten minutes, because everything was so frantic.  The UN officers escorted us, but they were having a hard time controlling the crowd.  I started getting mobbed by people trying to grab the buckets out of my hand, crying and begging me for it.  Only by God’s strength was I able to hold it together.  I couldn’t look into their desperate eyes, or I would have lost it.

When this was all over, I had to sit, breathe and cry .  I had so many going on at once…happy, sad, confusion, frustration, anger.  I was happy that the people were being provided for; sad for the people that didn’t receive food; confused why they have to suffer and not me?; frustrated that the UN is not doing a better job with aid distribution; and angry that the people had to be treated like animals.

All of this transpired before 10:00 in the morning.  Needless to say, I am physically and emotionally exhausted.