Saturday, February 19, 2011

"Oxygen for Christmas" = a success...

Over the Christmas holiday $11,760 was raised for oxygen concentrators for the Children’s Hospital in Sierra Leone. This is enough for at least 8 new concentrators! I was amazed to raise $5,000 last year for charity: water, this year I’m blown away! Friends, family, churches and strangers have all given generously to this cause. THANK YOU!

With only 6 oxygen concentrators at the Children’s Hospital, children had very limited access to oxygen. Often one machine was shared between 4 children! (see above picture) Obviously this is not sufficient and I can guarantee you that lack of oxygen attributed to child mortality in some cases. With the money donated to the Welbodi Partnership, through my church, my justgiving campaign and other donations in the UK, we were able to buy 11 oxygen concentrators. Seven of them arrived at the hospital a week and a half ago, the other four are due to arrive in the next two weeks.

The concentrators were sent by DHL to the Lungi airport, which meant that after attempting to get duty free concession from the Ministry (but failing) I headed to the airport with one of the Ministry’s procurement officers. I left home at 6am to be at the hospital by 645am, ready to leave by 7 am to catch the 8 am ferry across. All went well and even the paperwork seemed to be moving along until I was told there was a small problem. Because the shipment had been sitting at the airport for more than a week (because we were waiting for the paperwork at the Ministry!) we were told we had to pay Le 9,000,000!!! That’s almost $2,000. There was no way I was going to pay that. After explaining that the concentrators were for the government-run Children’s Hospital, saying someone should have mentioned that there was a storage fee if a shipment was stored for more than a week, some pleading and a text message to some good friends to ask them to pray, we finally got an okay and the paperwork was (slowly) signed off and the concentrators were released. Time was ticking away and we literally pulled up to the 11 am ferry just before it was set to leave the terminal. It’s always an adventure. We made it back to the hospital around 1 pm and offloaded the concentrators. The next morning Fred (my colleague) and I assembled the concentrators, tested them, marked them and delivered them to the wards. It seriously felt like Christmas. I was so happy. And so was the staff. And before we knew it, the machines were switched on, blowing out oxygen and children were benefiting!

Thank you so much to all who donated. A special thanks to: Kristin Harvey, Rene and Marianne Lako, Verity & Rob Boord, Jennifer Vardy, Alyson Denson and family, Niroshan Nadarajah, Jonathan and Joanna Payne, Emily Spry, Alex Paul, Anne Nesbitt, Maggie Ruth and Baby Jo, Jacco and Marit Groot, Susan Wagler, John Dawson (&Lambton Centre summer camping congregation), Lisa Gibson, Morgen Wilbourne, Sjoerd & Carmen Smits, Middle/High School students at Heritage Baptist Church in Texarkana, Doug Hunter, Gemeente de Wijngaard in Middelburg.

Donations can still be made to my justgiving page and will go directly to Welbodi Partnership to be used in some way to continue improving paediatric care at the hospital in Freetown. (It will not go towards more concentrators, as we now have a sufficient amount!)

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~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~