The following entry was written by 2018 Impact Trip team member, Mendal Bouknight. Serving as a MedShare Trustee and Secretary of the Board, Mendal Bouknight is a dedicated advocate for MedShare’s global mission having been introduced while President of the Piedmont Healthcare Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia. Piedmont is a founding partner of MedShare. During his career, Mendal served in senior leadership roles with Emory University; Clemson University, his alma mater; and The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta. He currently resides in Greenville, South Carolina. You can see Mendal’s previous post here.
The Underlying Reality: WHY MedShare Matters
Our partners in Ecuador, the Junta, are like every other country/community MedShare touches. Between the donations MedShare delivers and those donations actually touching someone and benefiting them are complexities of culture and politics.
Ecuador’s system for caring for the needy and underserved falls to our partners, the Junta. Funding for Junta comes from the national lottery. And when that lottery is thriving is still only accounts for 70% of the cost needed. Layer on the fact that the country’s new political leadership has withheld distribution of lottery proceeds (currently the Junta is owed $140 million by the government) as they attempt to determine priorities for the country.
We heard stories of the challenges Junta had in distributing resources to northern Ecuador following the earthquake of 2015. Much had to do with local authorities and the drug cartels in that region of Ecuador which borders Columbia. These kinds of economic and governmental difficulties –difficulties that are so far-removed from our day-to-day experiences in the US– continue to be barriers to progress and stronger health systems. We were able to see first-hand the complexity of the challenges faced by our partners abroad and better understand their needs within that context.
Our partners in Ecuador are as resilient as they are grateful for all MedShare provides. They are devoted to their work with the Junta and to what they do for their fellow Ecuadorians. For every country and community MedShare serves, we are reliant on devoted people like Ernesto, Isabel, and Sister Annie. We are reliant on the physicians, the businessman who operates several of the hospitals we visited, the nuns in Alausi, the caretakers at Damien House, and the commitment and culture of industry leaders at Ingenio San Carlos.
MedShare benefits from the leadership and talent of our staff. Charles Redding is respected by the Junta and known for his leadership. Cristi Wells, while new in her role, displayed her resourcefulness and her professional skills throughout the trip.
Our ability as a Board, volunteers, business partners, and as a staff to continue our noble mission must always have, front and center in our work, institutions like Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil. For without them, our generosity could not be realized.
MedShare continues our invaluable relationship with Junta de Beneficencia de Guayaquil in Eucador. To cap-off another impactful fiscal year, MedShare made two donations of medical supplies and biomedical equipment to Junta, with more to come!