This day of celebration offers an opportunity for organizations like MedShare to lift up the impact that volunteers make in our local and global communities. Nearly 20,000 individuals spend time at MedShare’s San Leandro and Atlanta distribution centers each year. Our dedicated volunteers invest their time to sort 15,000 of pounds of surplus medical supplies that have been diverted from local landfills every week. This perfectly usable product is used to treat recipients in need of healthcare in 95 countries throughout the world.
Today and every day, we thank our volunteers for helping us build healthy communities locally and globally.
In December, I had the opportunity to spend several days in Haiti visiting with several extraordinary MedShare partners. While I was overwhelmed by the challenges this country and its people continue to face, I keep finding myself thinking of one word when I consider the overall experience of my visit: HOPE.
I visited the Leveque community outside of Port-au-Prince, where – with support from MedShare-partner 410 Bridge – 93 families (half of those with a deaf family member) are living in community in permanent housing, and where eventually 169 families will dwell. Two of the community leaders who are deaf, Berthide and Mackenson, spent time learning about MedShare by reading our annual report since my sign language abilities don’t extend much beyond “Nice to Meet You” and “Thank you!” They did teach me a few new signs including that for “cow” (which crossed the road often during our visit) and “love” (a sign they used in every photo taken).
As they showed us the amazing progress they’ve made in providing housing, access to water, agriculture and education for this community, I thought of the HOPE they are providing to hundreds of Haitians.
I was overcome with emotion when I visited the Isaie Jeanty Maternity Hospital and saw two beautiful but very small babies (less than 2 pounds) that had been given a chance at life thanks to supplies and incubators provided by MedShare in strong partnership with the First Lady of Haiti via Mona Adam, Northside Hospital in Atlanta, and GIANT. Thanks to dedicated Haitian leaders and health care providers, these babies and their families have HOPE for life.
While these stories of HOPE may seem small compared to the millions of Haitians in need, I am truly inspired by the people of Haiti that are working diligently hour-by-hour, day-by-day to rebuild their country. And, I am extremely grateful to the many MedShare supporters who have generously donated their volunteer time, medical supplies and equipment, and financial resources so that MedShare could support these efforts. MedShare has shipped 84 forty-foot ocean containers full of medical supplies and equipment to Haiti over the past 15 years, with 7 in 2012 alone. Thank you for supporting MedShare to provide HOPE and HEALING to the people of Haiti!
Thanks to the generous financial sponsorship of the Kimberly Clark Foundation, MedShare shipped another 40-foot container of medical humanitarian aid for Bolivia yesterday from our Southeastern Regional Distribution Center in Decatur, Georgia.
The medical supplies and equipment on the container are donations for the Hospital Clinico Viedma in the Andean city of Cochabamba. This 200 bed public health institution has been serving Bolivia’s most poor and needy populations for the past 126 years. In his appeal to MedShare and Kimberly Clark for donations, Hospital Director Dr. Eduardo Amaya wrote that 60% of the hospital’s patient population comes from rural and semi-urban areas, 20% are from the city center, and 20% are migrants from around the country’s provinces and rural villages. The hospital also receives patients referred by the police and patients living on the streets and dealing with alcoholism and mental health illnesses. The Bolivian Ministry of Health does its best to provide the hospital with supplies and staff, but due to the high poverty rate, they are constantly lacking critical resources to care for all of these needy patients.
According to the World Health Organization, 61 out of 1,000 children under five die in Bolivia, as compared to 8 out of 1,000 in the United States. Child malnutrition and stunted growth is a chronic problem.
Over 1,000 individual boxes of medical supplies and equipment were shipped to Hospital de Clínicas on the container today, including surgical gloves, crutches, syringes, surgical masks, IV tubing, exam tables, suction pumps, laryngoscopes, pulse oximeters, a ventilator, an electrosurgical unit and more.