By Marco Galarza, MedShare’s Regional Representative, Ecuador
Julio Esteban Congo Anangono is a 30 year old young man with a 50% disability in his lower body, due to a childhood Poliomyelitis infection. Julio works each day from 7am to 5pm, guarding over parked cars for tips in the La Carolina Parking Lot on Los Shiris Avenue in Quito. All the tips he makes each day go back to supporting himself and his mother, who is elderly and cannot work. The family lives in a state of desperate poverty.
The Prefect of Esmeraldas, Lucia Sosa Robinson, received several Personal Energy Transportation (PET) Vehicles on a container shipped to her from MedShare last year, and generously agreed to let me, MedShare’s Regional Representative in Ecuador Marco Galarza, donate one PET to Julio. When Julio received the gift on Friday afternoon, January 28, he was both joyful and grateful for the assistance, saying that it would greatly facilitate his mobility around the parking lot allow him to bring home more earnings to support his family.
Watch video of Julio’s affected walking prior to receiving the PET
By Amanda Paniagua, Shipments Manager, MedShare
This week, thanks to a generous grant from an anonymous benefactor, MedShare’s Regional Repesentative in Ecuador Marco Galarza, MedShare supporter Dr. Dan Goldberg, and myself, Shipments Manager Amanda Paniagua, have had the remarkable opportunity to visit several recipient health care centers in Ecuador’s Amazonian basin. We arrived at midday on Monday in Puyo, the capital city of Pastaza Province, to the warmest of welcomes. The Municipal Government of Puyo, which has just sponsored the shipment of two containers of medical supplies and equipment from MedShare for the local healthcare system, had prepared a most touching ceremony for us in the Coliseum, complete with a brass band and local press! After speeches by the Mayor Mr. Gérman Flores, his wife and President of the municipal charity foundation Mrs. Jimena Brito, and other community representatives, donated walkers and PET vehicles were ceremoniously presented to local disabled children, adults, and the elderly.
After lunch, we were taken on a tour of Puyo Hospital, one of the central Ministry of Health referral hospitals for the entire Pastaza Province, a territory that expands over 29,800 square km and 60,000 inhabitants! “The hospital is running over 300% capacity right now,” said Dr. Barroso, Chief of Pediatrics and Medical Director of the Municipal charity foundation that sponsored the container. “The average hospital stay for is 3-5 days per patient, and we don’t have enough beds.” As luck would have it, MedShare received a donation of electric hospital beds just in time to include 26 on one of the two containers that were shipped to Puyo in December.
Puyo Hospital’s jurisdiction includes thousands of square miles of thick Amazon jungle, where seven different ethnic tribes live in tiny rural settlements without electricity, running water or roads to Puyo city. In many of these indigenous communities, the only way to reach the hospital during medical emergencies is by small planes called in via two-way radio. But when the weather is foggy or rainy, which happens frequently, the planes can’t fly.
During our hospital visit we met a young boy who had been bitten by a poisonous snake in his jungle village and had been flown into Puyo in under emergency evacuation. He was a member of the Waorani tribe, which was explained to me to be the most isolated out of the seven indigenous tribes. The child had arrived naked, as the Waorani traditionally wear only very beautiful and intricate head adornments and body paint, so the hospital staff had dressed him in a pair of pajamas. When we visited, he was visibly scared of the strange surroundings, but was receiving the best of medical care and was expected to make a full recovery. Snake bites are one of the most frequent medical dangers seen in this region of Ecuador.
The Ministry of Health and the Municipal government are obviously deeply committed to their people and are working tirelessly to improve the health care delivery system to reach those in the most isolated areas. While at the Puyo Hospital we met a young mother from the indigenous Kichwa tribe who had been flown in from the jungle community of Pakayacu with her infant daughter. The child was eight months old, but due to extreme malnutrition, weighed only a staggering 3500 grams- about the average weight of a healthy newborn. Chief Nurse Irma Naveda told me that these critical cases of malnutrition had been a chronic problem in that particular village in the past years, but thanks to the efforts of a 4-person medical team stationed by the Ministry of Health a few years ago in Pakayacu, they the rate was reduced by over 50%.
MedShare is fortunate to have such qualified, committed partners as the Ministry of Health and Municipal government of Puyo. Deep thanks to Mayor Gérman Flores, Mrs. Presidente Jimena Brito, Dr. Barroso, Nurse Irma Naveda, and all others for their warm hospitality and for showing us their outstanding work in the public health system of Paztasa province. Their dedication and love for the local people is truly an inspiration. MedShare is fortunate to have such qualified and committed partners, we hope to work together again on more containers for Paztaza Province very soon!
Special thanks goes to Marco Galarza for all his hard work coordinating this donation.
On Tuesday, December 21, 2010, MedShare’s Western Regional Distribution Center loaded and shipped out a 40 foot container of medical humanitarian aid for Colombia. This shipment was generously sponsored by Kimberly Clark Corporation and Foundation out of a multi-year, multi-container grant for shipments of aid to Latin America.
This container is carrying over 13,000 lbs of medical supplies and equipment that will be distributed amongst two hospitals in the highly impoverished region of Chocó in the northwest of the country. These hospitals, the Hospital Ismael Roblán and IPS Caprecom Hospital San Francisco de Asis, serve Colombia’s poorest citizens, and struggle with a lack of sufficient supplies and equipment.
We’d like to sincerely thank Mrs. Elena De Bedout for her tireless support and advocacy for the underprivileged families of Colombia as well as everyone at the Kimberly Clark Colombia office for making this shipment possible!
Thanks to the generous support of Kimberly-Clark, MedShare shipped a forty-foot container of medical supplies and equipment to the American Nicaraguan Foundation (ANF) in Managua, Nicaragua this September. The shipment was recently featured on a Nicaraguan news program, La Prensa.
The ANF is a 501 c (3) not-for profit organization rated as a four star charity by Charity Navigator whose 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 delivering humanitarian aid to impoverished communities all over Nicaragua.
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. Medical supplies and equipment are desperately needed there. Click here to view a powerful video created by a dedicated ANF volunteer that depicts the lives of Nicaraguans the difference ANF’s work makes.
Watch the video below to view the ANF and MedShare story that aired on La Prensa:
Kimberly-Clark, through MedShare, a nonprofit located in the United States whose mission is to improve the environment and healthcare through the efficient recovery and redistribution of surplus medical supplies and equipment to underserved healthcare facilities in developing countries, donated more than 1,500,000 Nicaraguan córdoba in medical supplies and equipment. This donation was made possible through a strategic partnership with Kimberly-Clark and the American Nicaraguan Foundation. The donations are really important because they’re improving the country’s health sector, which is a very important part of the country’s well-being. We’ll now make a presentation of the supplies and equipment donated by MedShare.
Among the items included in September’s shipment were:
- Baby Care Kits
- Electric Beds
- PET Vehicles
- Exam Lamps
We’d like to give a special thanks to Kimberly-Clark, without whom this shipment would not have been possible. Kimberly-Clark sponsored the MedShare fees, shipping costs, facilitated customs clearance, and even had a ceremony (depicted in the video) during which they presented the MedShare-donated supplies to ANF.
Earlier this year, MedShare, in unison with the Coca Cola Africa Foundation, partnered with Celebration Health to donate $4 million worth of medical supplies and equipment for use in African public health institutions.
St Giles Medical Rehabilitation Centre based in Harare was one of the beneficiaries of the medical equipment received by Celebration Health. A patient of theirs, Chris, is a 34 year old man who is undergoing rehabilitation after an accident at work. Chris was fixing the under carriage of a car when the jack gave way and the full weight of the car fell on his body; he was left with extensive spinal injury and unable to walk.
He received a PET vehicle nine months into his rehabilitation. The first time Chris went out without his wheelchair, he said, “I have the freedom to take myself to the shops.”
He was pleased with PET and he thanked the Celebration Health and its partners for bringing hope to a hopeless situation.
MedShare supports St. Damien Hospital, the premier pediatric hospital in Haiti that provides all services free of charge. Currently, the hospital is overwhelmed with cholera cases.
St. Damien Doctor and Mission Director Father Rick Frechette wrote a report describing the cholera situation in Haiti that we wanted to share with you:
I worked all night at our cholera treatment area, and during the night I saw a comparison I never would have imagined. Stepping out of the tents for fresh air from time to time, I saw the pearly white crescent moon overhead, beautiful and calming. Inside the tents, also set against a deep darkness, the eyes of the most severe of the sick people have the same form. Eyes sunk deeply to that the whites of the eye stay below the upper eyelid, with the eye rolled upward toward the forehead. Two crescent moons. It is a scary sight to see the depth of the apathy and surrender, not an ounce of fight left. It is sadder still to see it in children.
The last time I wrote there were about 4,300 reported cases of cholera in Haiti. That number is climbing to 20,000 with 1000 deaths. I read reports that about 200,000 cases are anticipated before there is a decline. We are setting up two more tents of 16 cots each, which will put our small base at 100 beds. You can believe me that even 100 people represent enormous human suffering, as well as enormous devotion (and work!).
The public morgue will not accept bodies, for fear of cholera. You cannot even bring the garbage to the normal dump without getting stoned by the neighbours for fear of cholera. We are cremating our own dead. It is sobering to be the one to push the furnace button, after placing the child inside. All night I see how closely the parents cling to their children, accepting to sleep in the most difficult positions as they find the best way to hold their child. I watch them and admire them, but the in the case of the children I am sure will die, it seems so unfair that the children are slipping away from such tender arms. The last arms to hold them are mine, as I place them in the crematorium. The grief of the mothers is as difficult for us to take as the illness.
In the book of revelations, St John says he saw a woman “Clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.” I still believe if there is a moon nearby, so is that special woman, who Christians believe to be with us in joys and in sorrows, and at the hour of our death.
Fr. Rick Frechette
Father Rick was also interviewed on the Univision Network last week to speak more about the sitiation. Click here to view the video.