Part 1 “THE PREPARATIONS”
Shipments of humanitarian goods are planned sometimes a whole year in advance. Depending on the needs of the asking institutions, Good News Project may either have the goods in storage or need to make specific requests for donations from area hospitals or nursing facilities.
The 2016 shipment to St. Lucia has been no different. It all began in January when we received a letter from the administrator of Victoria Hospital.
When we read about their need for hospital beds, we knew we had to do something.
Manual hospital beds are, for the most part, a thing of the past in the U.S. Finding the beds was our first challenge. We mentioned it to folks in passing for a couple of months and then in the Spring we hit pay dirt! A woman in Siren, Wisconsin recently purchased a nursing home and was flipping it into an assisted living facility. She had 25+ manual hospital beds to get rid of! Clearly this was serendipity!
It took a good couple of months to figure out the logistics of actually transporting this quantity of beds from Siren, a small town 3 hours Northwest of Wausau. Now our serendipity is clearly the orchestration of our Higher Power because our staff then became connected with an official mover of hospital beds. Tom and Linda from Wittenberg generously donated their time and fuel to pick up the beds for us in July.
When the beds arrived at our loading dock, we realized they really needed some attention. Two Wausau East high school students washed each bed over a period of 2 afternoons. Then came the members of our Wausau Golden Kiwanis. Hours of wire brushing, grinding tools and metal primer and the beds not only looked like new, but were almost ready for shipment!
You may think the bed searching and fixing was all that was happening in the first half of the year with this shipment, but behind the scenes, so much more was happening. We had to predict all the other items that would eventually be sent on the shipment (like wheelchairs, bed rails, construction tile and hardware and adult diapers). A list was then pre-submitted to USAID via the Denton Amendment program (a free program to nonprofits which was established by Senator Jeremiah Denton in the 80’s.)
In mid-October we received the notification that our application had been accepted by USAID and an independent inspection agency would be contacted. Based on past shipments we knew that an inspector could show up at our door anywhere from 1 week to 4 weeks from that notification. It was time to spring into action and be sure all the remaining items were acquired (either collected by donation or purchased), labeled and palletized so that the inspector could evaluate the entire shipment. This step took a large amount of time for staff members; to be sure all the details were attended to. Volunteer Bob Brown negotiated prices and arranged delivery for windows and tile (enough for 18 houses!!). Toni spent hours researching, negotiating prices and acquiring latex exterior paint and buying hardware for our houses. Bettina and Christine put in hours of time assembling, testing, disassembling and labeling the hospital beds.
Meanwhile, in a country far far away (St. Lucia), our representative was hard at work distributing our packing list to various St. Lucian government ministries for various approvals and waivers of duty and VAT tax. Being able to say that in one sentence truly does not represent what Noella Sankar does to accomplish this. Hours of time sitting in Ministry offices, transporting documents to Customs and making sure the paperwork is lined up properly for entry into the country is a huge task. We could not send a humanitarian shipment without her diligence and attention to detail.
Stay tuned for PART 2 ….A PEAK DURING INSPECTION (Nov. 2)