Earlier this week I was talking to a friend and we were discussing how incredibly easy we Americans find it to change things out, to dispose of what we consider to be old and unusable, even though the items in question are still good and fully functioning.  Take, for example, a cell phone.  One day, we are perfectly happy with this phone, yet when we notice that a new model is available, we suddenly find fault with our old phone and decide to that we need a new one NOW.

Of course, there are options for getting rid of the phone – throw it away, trade it in for a new one or donate it to a domestic violence center.  Because it is a good phone, it would seem that option number three would be the most appropriate one – give the phone to someone who can use it and who will appreciate it.  Give it to someone whose life you’ll change because of that one small gesture of kindness.

In the same vein, AFCA takes medical supplies and equipment that were once considered to be top of the line, but because there are new models available, the older ones are now destined to move on to “greener” pastures. Just like the phone mentioned above, they have options – go to a landfill, be turned into scrap metal, or be reused by someone who desperately needs the equipment.

AFCA has chosen to keep good equipment and supplies out of dump yards and instead give them to hospitals and clinics in Kenya, Uganda or the Democratic Republic of Congo so that sick and hurting people can receive proper medical care which was not available to them in the past.

Patients can now rest in nearly new, comfortable beds after surgery.  Children with broken arms can have their arms wrapped in new casting tape.  Babies are born on gently used maternity beds and moms know that any needles, gloves or sutures used are brand new and safe.

Seems like the perfect solution, doesn’t it?  We keep good medical supplies and equipment out of the trash while helping patients who so appreciate the gifts and who use them until they become truly unusable.

No, this is not a story of “someone’s trash is another man’s treasure” because we do not send trash to anyone.

We do not send garbage.  Instead, we provide hope and dignity to people while sending needed, good, clean, working, and welcomed gifts to those who don’t have them.   Yet, this gift isn’t only for the recipients.  The other gift recipient is the landfill where these good items would have lived out the rest of their days.  Now, landfills will house less hospital beds, boxes of brand new gloves and syringes, wheelchairs, baby incubators, and so much more.  Our local dump yards will not have to make room for bassinettes, operating tables and walkers because the items will never make it there if AFCA has anything to do about it.

Volunteers at AFCA’s warehouse in Lebanon, PA pick up these supplies and equipment from hospitals, home-bound patients, nursing homes, and private medical offices.  Then, they are cleaned, sorted, inventoried, packaged, and sent to partner hospitals in Africa who need the items we have.

It’s truly a beautiful dance of supply availability meeting needs.

Recycle. Reuse. Reborn.