Thanks to all who have shared feedback and ideas based on my blog posts about our recent site visits in Guatemala. Over the past week, I have debriefed with our U.S. based MedShare team, and we have worked to solidify action steps and lessons learned. We have already started putting the knowledge gained into action!
Following are my top 5 personal “takeaways” from this trip to Guatemala.
1. Partnerships are key. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. There’s no way to do this work in a high-quality way without deep partnerships. The “flavor” of the partner (NGO, hospital, corporate, foundation) is much less important than having a shared philosophy of respect for the recipient and a focus on impact and sustainability.
2. More biomedical training & repair trips are needed. The training and repair trips are extremely high impact and provide sustainable health system improvements. Eben provided 20 Guatemalan technicians, nurse and doctors from 6 different hospitals with training. As a result, they will be able to better maintain and repair their hospitals’ key medical equipment for years to come. MedShare must do more of this work.
3. People are amazing. The generosity, passion and hospitality of people around the world truly takes your breath away. 99.99% of people you meet want to help and want to make things better and will go to great lengths – including some personal sacrifice – to do so.
4. Mistakes happen. Sometimes supplies don’t get where we want them to go as fast as we would like. Perfection isn’t possible in international aid. However, we must always strive for “better” and learn from those times when things don’t go as planned. Throwing our hands up in despair is not an option.
5. The need is great and we must continue to find creative ways to do more with our U.S. surplus. Every hospital and clinic we visited in Guatemala was doing their absolute best to provide high-quality care for patients and the reality is that none of them had sufficient supplies or equipment to do so. At the same time, I was seeing this tremendous need first-hand, thousands of pounds of medical surplus were being disposed of here in the U.S. We must continue to stay focused on bridging that gap between surplus and need.
So, that’s a “wrap” on this productive visit to Guatemala. In the coming weeks, I’m headed to Florida and New York to advance our expansion work in those important markets. Stay tuned for updates on how things are going!
Thank you for your continued support of MedShare. You’re making a world of difference!