Sending a 40 ft container of medical equipment and humanitarian aid to Iraq.
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 a 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 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 operating in the camps in Northern Iraq. Most of these medical clinics are run by small non government organisations who rely solely on donations from international donors.
A donation of valuable medical equipment was received from Narrabri District Hospital in January and a neo-natal rescusitaire, flash steriliser, a foetal heart monitor and oxygen trolley were collected with great excitement.
Over the past 4 months John Hunter Hospital have kindly donated 8 defibrillators, 5 patient monitor units, 3 bedside monitor units, 3 pulse oximetry monitors, 5 emergency ventilators, spot patient monitors and a battery charging unit and batteries. There are also 8 ECGs on their way. There is now well in excess of $200,000 worth of medical equipment donations just from this one hospital.
Toronto Private hospital donated 17 hospital beds and 2 emergency crash trolleys.
Singleton Community Health donated 4 renal dialysis treatment chairs.
The other donated contents will be given to the refugees in Bajed Kandala refugee camp made up of 11,500 Yazidi people – mainly children and young adults. These people have lived in terrible conditions for the past 4 years. Housed in tents – that were to be used for 12 months as emergency housing – that were flooded with mud recently. Now the tents are shredded and torn and leaking but there is no hope of replacement. There is only intermittent electricity supply and little water supplies for the residents. With recent temperatures reaching into the 50’s it is a terrible place for these families to live. In winter this area is regularly covered with snow.
So we are very grateful for special donations for the refugees that have come from all over New South Wales and Queensland. We have been given beautiful hand knitted and hand sewn clothes from “Gabbies sewing angels” and ‘friends of Margaret Brown” and a sewing group in Melbourne, warm jackets and hoodies, hand made baby bags, 100 bags of hospital linen, 500 hand knitted blankets from “Wrap with Love, 1,000 sanitary kits from “Days for Girls”, a car and trailer load of brand new school uniforms from “Alinta Apparel”, mobility aides – 3 wheelchairs, 100+ pairs of crutches, commodes, shower chairs, walking sticks, walkers, calipers, 50 handwound torches, education, art and craft resources, medical supplies – including prosthetics and OT equipment, 2 sewing machines, an overlocker and over 200kgs of fabric.
To get all these items where they are needed we have bought a 40ft shipping container for $3,421. Thanks to ‘Hunter Container Rental and Sales’ for their discount in the purchase and delivery of the container.
In the coming weeks the container will be delivered to the grounds of the SDA church in Toronto for packing ready for the journey – and we thank them for their support and insurance cover for our volunteers.
Thank you to Hunter Valley Pallets who have built and delivered, at no cost, wooden crates to house the precious medical equipment and therefore ensure it travels to Northern Iraq safely.
Thank you to SEATRAM managing Director Mark Patterson, our freight forwarding company, who has given a ‘donation in kind’ by funding the entire transport costs from Sydney to Northern Iraq. SEATRAM are located in Perth, Western Australia and were the only company to respond to a request for a quote to ship to Iraq!
Thank you to Luke from Mela Group Pty Ltd in Cawdor, Queensland for the 50% discount and free postage on the 4kgs of desiccant that needs to be distributed in the container before being packed.
There are many individuals, hospitals, community groups, churches, charities that have helped us along the way – Thank you.
Thank you to Catherine in Wagga Wagga, who in the early months drove here with her family enroute to holiday on the north coast -and delivered 200 “Days for Girls” kits. Catherine has sent 3 shipping containers to Uganda and was able to give me great tips re packing the container and documentation required – even sending me copies of her inventory in a data base – which was an enormous help as we began the packing process. She has been a tower of strength and encouragement when challenges arose – and we have conquered them!
Rotary clubs and Rotarians – Lyn Thorpe and Paul McCormack in particular, have been very supportive and helpful in sourcing and collecting these donations for us. Lyn has spent a decade filling and sending shipping containers to destinations in the Pacific region to support rotary projects – so her sharing of shipping information has been invaluable. We are also grateful to Maureen Turner, a local Rotarian, for her continued support and delivery of a cheque from Toronto Rotary club for $1,000 towards the shipping project.
Thank you to the volunteers who came to our home over three very cold days to sort, fold, pack, box, tape, weigh and label everything. Thank you Eldrene and Maureen for coming regularly over the past few months to start the initial packing and sorting. Also thanks to Eldrene and Ainslie for sewing and repairing items to bring them back to life.
All the donated items are now packed and are in storage. Special thank you to “Survivors R Us” in Cardiff for allowing us room to store our 17 hospital beds and 500 blankets along with their incredibly well matched donation of 20 new hospital mattresses. I can’t speak highly enough of this charitable organisation who are giving and supporting many many other community groups as well as the individuals who seek their help.
We are replacing all the plugs on every electrical item – ie all medical equipment, 17 hospital beds, sewing machines etc to conform with the Iraqi electrical standard. Thank you to Kim Henley and Steve Threlfo for checking and testing all the medical equipment and doing the electrical changes required.
We need to purchase consumable items – batteries for the defibrillators, probe covers, paper pads to print monitor results, electrode pads, sensors etc . We would love to receive donations towards these purchases – which in some cases are over $100 per item. There is the donate button on this page or feel free to deposit direct to our bank account:
Account Name: Operation Hope BSB: 034087 Account Number: 045791 SWIFT/IBAN Code: WPACAU2S with Westpac Bank, Sherwood branch in Queensland, Australia
Our packing list (which is extensive and detailed has to meet very strict criteria from the Iraqi government) will be submitted as soon as we receive our last medical equipment donation of ECGs.
Once our shipping container sets sail it will be delivered adjacent to the medical clinic in the Bajed Kandala refugee camp located near the border of Iraq with Turkey and Syria. There are 11,500 residents – Yezidi people – who have lived in poor conditions for the past 4 years following the genocide by ISIS in August 2014. The shipping container can be used at the camp for storage or repurposed for an activity group or office. Dr Nemam Ghefouri, a heart surgeon, is the founder and spokeswoman of Joint help for Kurdistan – a non government organisation running the medical clinic in this camp. The medical and hospital equipment will be distributed among the camp medical clinic, two hospitals, a cardiac paediatrician and several heart clinics.
Operation Hope volunteers will meet Dr Nemam when we travel to volunteer at Bajed Kandala camp in September/October.