By Mafe Polini
Last week, the In-Kind Donations program team allowed me to be part of one of its regular working days. An early start took us to the soon to be demolished Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. to finish a long journey that this PADF team began last summer. Back in July 2012, they filled up the first of 13 containers full of medical equipment and other donations that were sent to many countries throughout the region. Many communities in Latin America and the Caribbean live without any medical care, and clinics and doctors are often hampered by a severe shortage of equipment and supplies. These factors lead them to seek support from international organizations like PADF that serve as a bridge to deliver assistance.
Although it is easy to write, it is not that simple to do.
The newly decommissioned Walter Reed Hospital is as big as three soccer fields, and was absolutely full of equipment in very good condition that could be used by communities in need around our continent. It took time to identify and organize these useful materials and tools, but it resulted in the delivery of a large quantity of much needed items. The list includes CT-scanners, surgical lights, surgical booms, stretchers, medical exam tables, side tables, dining tables, patient tables, wheelchairs, nurse’s stations, projection screens, and more. Countries like Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Haiti, Mexico and Uruguay were grateful to receive the containers with materials that currently worth no less than 2 and a half million dollars, and are a great help for many organizations to continue their work.
To me, it was a wonderful experience to spend a day walking around this huge building moving furniture around. Lots of memories will remain behind Walter Reed Hospital, and PADF beneficiaries and staff will always be grateful for the kindness of this institution and its people that enabled PADF to give a second life to the working equipment and other medical materials, and to continue to create an hemisphere of opportunity for all.