$500,000+ of donations shipped to Kurdistan, Iraq

February Update: Very long and Arduous Process

At the Port of Mersin in Turkey, the shipping container was placed on the back of a semi trailer and driven the 1,000kms to the Turkish/Kurdish Border.  The driver with his load sat at the border for 21 days waiting for the shipping documentation we supplied to be processed through various government departments.

Finally, on Thursday 14th February the shipping container was given permission to transport the load across the border into Kurdistan – this journey was shortlived – shortly after crossing into Kurdistan, at the first check point the driver was diverted to a customs warehouse in Semeil/Semel (an industrial area west of Duhok).  The photos below show the complete load unpacked into the customs warehouse.

It is now Sunday 24th February and we are praying that the government department resend the approval letter with 2 x correct content lists today to the customs warehouse.

Kim and I fly to Kurdistan on 27 February –  it appears that our first task is to ensure the release of the container from the customs warehouse and speedy transport into the Bajed Kandala 2 camp.  Then we can start the process of unpacking and distribution of the equipment to the Kurdish hospitals and the warm clothing, blankets etc to the families at the camp.

Watch this space for update!

January Update : Tracking the Container

The container is now in Mersin, Turkey, arriving on time on the 16th January. It will be transported on the back of a semitrailer along the Turkish/Syrian Border into Kurdistan, Iraq.  Final destination is the Bajed Kandala 2 camp where 5,500 Ezidi people have lived for the past 4 years.

Kim and I fly there in a few weeks and join the “Joint Help for Kurdistan” team to unpack and distribute the contents. The shipping container will remain in the camp, and may be repurposed or used as storage.  The medical and hospital equipment will be donated to nearby hospitals and medical centres.  The clothes, blankets, toys, educational material will be given to the residents in the camp.  I am coordinating womens health workshops for 1300+ women and girls in the camp, which includes the distribution of the “Days for Girls” sanitary kits which are onboard the container.

Watch this space for further updates.

How it started

It started with a gift – a very generous gift of cash. Which was followed by a promise, by me, that I would find a worthy project in Northern Iraq to be the recipients of this gift. Then came an unexpected phone call offering me medical equipment worth over $A50,000 new, and the offer of more medical equipment donations.

And so the shipping container project to Kurdistan, Iraq was born. Medical and hospital equipment has been our highest priority as there is a real and urgent need for these items in the medical clinics and hospitals in Northern Iraq.  Most of the camp medical clinics are run by small non government organisations who rely solely on donations from international donors.



Medical Equipment

In January 2018 Narrabri District Hospital donated a neo-natal rescusitaire, flash steriliser, foetal heart monitor and oxygen trolley which Kim and I collected with great excitement. Over the next few months other donations have be made from John Hunter Hospital, Toronto Private hospital and Singleton Community Health:

  • 8 Defibrillators, battery charging unit and batteries
  • Patient monitors
  • Emergency ventilators
  • 15 Hospital beds
  • Medical treatment chairs
  • 2 ECGs
  • 6 infant incubators
  • 4 neonatal intensive care monitors
  • Hospital Steriliser, plus another 2 benchtop sterilisers

The second hand value of this is well in excess of $A500,000 worth of medical equipment.

Refugee Aid

Winter is approaching, so we are very grateful for special donations that have come from all over New South Wales and Queensland.  We have been given these items for the shipping container:

  • Beautiful hand knitted and hand sewn clothes and blankets from “Gabbies sewing angels” in Sydney,  ‘friends of Margaret Brown” in Newcastle, and a sewing group in Melbourne
  • Warm jackets and hoodies,
  • 100 bags of hospital linen
  • 500 hand knitted blankets from “Wrap with Love”
  • 2,199 sanitary kits from “Days for Girls” chapters in New South Wales and Queensland.
  • Brand new school uniforms from “Alinta Apparel”
  • Mobility aids –  wheelchairs, crutches, commodes, shower chairs, walking sticks, walkers, callipers
  • 50 hand wound torches
  • Education, art and craft resources,
  • 2 sewing machines, an overlocker and over 200 kg of fabric.
  • Medical supplies – including prosthetics and Occupational Therapy equipment

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Transport to Kurdistan

All the medical equipment and other gifts are now packed into the shipping container and left Newcastle on 26 November for Sydney where it will depart by ship on 1 December. The ship should arrive in Mersin, Turkey on 16 January 2019, then on to Bajed Kandala 2 after crossing the Iraq border.

Companies and Organisations

Without the generous sponsorship of SEATRAM Managing Director Mark Patterson in Western Australia, this journey to Iraq would not have been possible. Grateful thanks also to:

  • John Hunter Hospital – Mal Allen and his wonderful team in the Biomedical department
  • Toronto and Toronto Sun Rise Rotary and Newcastle Rotarians
  • All the individual volunteers who spent many days packing, sorting and weighing items. Including my friends at Toronto Uniting Church.
  • ‘Survivors R Us’ in Cardiff who gave us storage for the hospital beds and donated brand new hospital bed mattresses.  They also allowed the 40ft shipping container to be onsite for several weeks while it was packed.  Their friendly staff provided extra special help by operating their forklift and manual trolleys and using their physical strength.
  • Hunter Valley Pallets who generously provided crates below cost.