Email received on August 25, 2021:
“Dear great friend of Kilembe Mines Hospital, Tanya. I hope you are fine despite this COVID-19 pandemic globally.
This is to inform you that on the 7th and 10th of May 2020, we were affected by floods that severely devastated and destroyed our hospital. Since then, we have been displaced/re-located to the premises of the Diocese of Kasese. This is where the hospital operates from currently. We know you also have challenges now in the USA, but we still beg you to mobilize for us some resources, to retool, build, restore and functionalize us again. We sincerely appreciate your kind-hearted humanitarian efforts.
Thank you and God bless you and AFCA”
Our answer, of course, is “yes, we will help. When we have enough medical supplies and equipment to send, as well as the funds for shipping, we will help”. We start the search for equipment and supplies needed by the folks at Kilembe Mines Hospital, located in west Uganda, close to the Mountains of the Moon. Our Warehouse Manager, Betsy, does many pick ups of donated hospital beds, baby and maternity kits, gurneys, computers, wheelchairs, walkers, and all sorts of other supplies desperately needed by our friends in Uganda. Volunteers clean, sort and pack the various items and all are inventoried and stored, ready to go to Kilembe Mines when we have enough to ship.
By November, we had accumulated enough to pack not one, but TWO 40’ containers of medical supplies and equipment! Each box is marked with its contents, each piece of equipment is carefully wrapped with stuffed animals or diapers so that each and every item sent will be put to good use. Betsy and I are giddy as we get right before a shipment, imagining the people who will be affected by the donations. We draw out plans to know how and where we will be placing each pallet and how the beds and various pieces of equipment will be placed so that we can use the most of all the allotted space. We go to the frigid warehouse multiple times and “stage” all the boxes that will be loaded into the containers, doing our best to have everything ready for the big day.
Volunteers join us on a cold day in November and we race against the clock to load each container in two hours so as not to incur extra transportation costs. We work hard, we race around finding the perfect sized box to fit into a specific hole, taking advantage of every single empty space, filling the containers to the brim. I hand the driver a seal after each container door is closed and he places it at the door, making sure no one can open them until they arrive at their destination. The volunteers, Betsy and I high five each other, happy with another great shipment done.
In Uganda, three months later, the great gifts arrive and like Christmas, they are unloaded with jubilation and expectancy. We celebrate with them from far away, happy that we have done our job and that we have been able to help a hospital stand on its feet once again.
“Thank you, dear”, the note says. “Receive this letter with our most sincere thanks and all our love. Thank you for helping us in our time of need. Thank you for being our partner”.