A New Year’s Message of Thanks Inspired by the People of Haiti: HOPE

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).

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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.

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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!

In Service,

Meridith Rentz, CEO & President

Kenya Trip Notes from the Field: MedShare’s Lindsey Barnett

By Lindsey Barnett, MedShare’s Senior Program Manager

From the moment Meridith and I stepped off the plane, a flood of excitement and gratitude rushed through me to be in this place – well, excitement mixed with a strong desire to shower and rest my eyes after an almost sleepless 24 hours. :) There’s so much to appreciate about Kenya and the countries surrounding this region, from the lush landscapes to the cheerful lilt in the voices of new friends who welcome you with warmth and graciousness. As we visit this incredibly diverse group of partners over the next week, I can’t wait to hear the thoughts, questions and ideas that come from those in our group – people who are coming together from across the U.S with a rich blend of knowledge, experiences and a deep-rooted passion for making a difference in our global community.  As we’re traveling, we’d love to hear from those at home who may have questions or seeds they’d like to plant during this opportunity to probe a little deeper in the field – could make for some really interesting dialogues with our Kenyan partners.

Send us your thoughts and stay tuned….

This post is part of a series we’re doing over the coming days while MedShare staff and Board of Trustee members travel through Kenya from February 17 – 27. We invite you to share the experience with them by reading their stories; to access them, click on the “Africa Trip“  icon in the right sidebar. Safe travels, team!

Kenya Trip Notes from the Field: MedShare CEO

By Meridith Rentz, MedShare CEO and President

We’re on our way……

Lindsey and I are on the flight from Atlanta to Amsterdam.  I want my body to think it’s 6:00 am (Nairobi time) but not much luck.  My mind is racing with anticipation and excitement and last-minute worries.  It’s much too hard to sleep as I consider all that we’re about to see, feel, touch, smell, hear…..experience.  We are going to have the gift of learning about the impact of our MedShare work up-close and personal.  What works?  What doesn’t?  How can we improve?  How can we have sustainable impact?

Once we arrive in Nairobi, Lindsey and I will do final preparations before our wonderful MedShare group arrives.   Bob, Liz, Sandy, Laureen, Ginny, Pat, Charlie, Tina, AB, Angie, Terry, Tom, Ed and Jennifer……hurry on up, we’re ready for you!

This post is the first of a series we’ll host over the coming days. MedShare staff and Board of Trustee members will be in Kenya from February 17 – 27, and they’ll be sharing their stories and first-hand accounts on the MedShare blog. We invite you to share the experience with them by reading their stories; to access them, click on the “Africa Trip”  icon in the right sidebar. Safe travels, team!

A look back: MedShare’s Visit to Guatemala

Earlier this year, MedShare’s Josh Kravitz (Chief Operating Officer), Amanda Paniagua (Shipments Manager), and Terry Monday (Volunteer Manager for MedShare’s Western Region) visited Guatemala.

MedShare's Josh Kravitz, Amanda Paniagua and Terry Monday with hospital staff in Antigua, Guatemala

Why did they visit? “Our mission on this trip was to dive into the Guatemalan medical community to learn just who will be our best partner hospitals over the next year or two and truly understand their unique needs,” said Josh Kravitz, COO. “Without a doubt, we prepared to leave this wonderful country with a better understanding that will lead to even higher quality medical aid shipments.”

To learn more, we invite you to read Josh and Amanda’s accounts of their trip. Which of our recipient countries would you like to travel to?

Inspired by his father’s death, Guatemala’s Pedro Sosof became a nurse.

By Amanda Paniagua, Shipments Manager, MedShare

Pedro Sosof, LPN

“When I was 17 my father passed away.  He had a brain hemorrhage.  We took him to the National Hospital but they didn’t do anything to help him.  That is what made me want to become a nurse.”  -Pedro Sosof, LPN

Pedro Sosof is a 26 year old indigenous Tz´tujil Mayan from Santiago Atitlan who has been practicing nursing at Hospitalito Atitlan for five years.  The fifth child of eight born to a fisherman father and housewife mother, he grew up poor. Thanks to a level head and a lot of dedication and hard work, however, Pedro was able to put himself through nursing school by working part-time selling artisan crafts.  He is now a respected clinician with a flair for emergency and surgical care.

Hospitalito Atitlan

The Hospitalito is located on the shores of Lake Atitlan in the highlands of Guatemala, and serves a population of about 43,000 indingenous Mayan, many of whom speak no or very limited Spanish.  Pedro and the other nurses and some medical staff speak Tz´tutjil and translate it into Spanish for the rest.  MedShare shipped a container of medical supplies and equipment here about a year ago, and since then Pedro and the other nursing and medical staff have used the items to save lives and improve health and wellness in this remote region.  A second MedShare container is in the early fundraising stage and will likely ship later this year.

I think understand what he means when he says ¨they didn´t do anything¨ for his father at the National Hospital before he passed away.  It´s not that the doctors and nurses didn’t want to help Pedro´s father eight years ago; more likely, due to a lack of trained medical personnel, medications, supplies, equipment, and funding and other necessary resources, they just couldn’t.

The National Hospital in Solola doesn’t have a working ventilator.  The Antigua National Hospital lacks basic equipment like stethoscopes and pulse oximeters for their newborn nursery and pediatric ICU.   Critical cases have to be referred to Guatemala City, where there may be more advanced equipment available, but not all patients can survive the journey.

Pregnant patient with a kidney infection

In contract, Hospitalito Atitlan is well-equipped in both staff and supplies, thanks to donations received from MedShare and other international foundations and NGOs.  Today I watched as Pedro rushed to grab a speculum and gauze from a fully-stocked supply closet when a young pregnant Tz´tutujil woman came into the emergency room with vaginal bleeding.  Her pregnancy was lost, but her life was saved.  Later in the day I witnessed a young Mayan woman in her third trimester with a dangerous kindey infection receive stat antibiotics via IV, saving her life and that of her baby.  Two years ago her term baby was stillborn, delivered at home by a local midwife.  The Hospitalito doctors suspect a similar kidney infection was the cause of death; thankfully this time she is getting the care she needs.  More donated eqiupment and supplies are still desperately needed here, but all in all, this small Guatemalan Hospital is producing more success stories than one ever could have imagined.

¨I do this job to help my people,¨ Pedro told me. ¨Even though sometimes it is hard, I keep going, because I feel like I´m doing something good for my people¨

MedShare Staff Visit to Guatemala: National Hospital of Antigua Photos

We mentioned earlier this week that MedShare staff members Josh Kravitz, Terry Monday and Amanda Paniagua are currently in Guatemala visiting recipient hospitals, potential hospitals, and a few of our partners.

Most recently, they visited the National Hospital of Antigua. Here are their photos:

A little medicine and mom will fix everything.

Hospital Garden

Toys are fun, shots are not.

This is where the newborns get their first bath.

Look closely, this premature baby is being warmed by a floor lamp because the infant warmer is broken and can't be fixed even though this hospital is less than an hour from Guatemala City.

A volcanic view for lunch.

Feet up on rusty stool, head against paint chipped wall, waiting for the doctor.

A breast milk bank...what a great idea. As is the creative use of non-sterile medical drapes as sheets. I have seen this innovative use of what is most often tossed and still think the creativity is great.

What are your reactions to these photos? We’d love to hear your thoughts! Please share below…

Click here to view the first round of photos. More to come!

MedShare Staff Visit to Guatemala: Photos

On Sunday, MedShare staff members Josh Kravitz (COO), Terry Monday (Volunteer Programs Manager), and Amanda Paniagua (Shipments Manager) traveled to Guatemala to visit recipient hospitals. Among the ones they’ll be visiting are National Hospital of Antigua, Hospital Materno Infantil, Clinica Puerta de Esperanza, Hospital Solola, Obras Sociales del Santo Hermano Pedro, and Hospitalito Atitlán.

Throughout the trip, we will be posting on-the-ground information from these staff members. First up? Photos that were snapped upon their arrival.

View from the hotel

Plaza Mayor post presidential rally

Market in the shadows of the Palacio National

Guatemala City

Guatemala City

Post-Political Rally

More to come!