November/December 2007 Issue
Group Recycles Medical Supplies to Poorer Countries
by Shirley Tye
An Ontario church, aided by donors from across the province, recently helped ship its eighth container of donated items to countries in need.
The container, stuffed with 1,800 items such as used medical supplies and equipment, and handmade clothing and toys, went in April to the Republic of Moldova, the second poorest country in Eastern Europe.
The shipping containers are provided by the Peterborough branch office of ORA (Orphans, Refugees and Aid) International Canada, a non-denominational Christian relief and development organization. The church is Bethel Evangelical Missionary Church in Lindsay, Ont., about 80 kilometres northeast of Toronto.
“The health minister of Moldova was so touched by all the equipment sent last year that he hopes to visit the Kawartha area to thank the generous Canadian donors personally,” says Corinne Malloy-Smith, missions committee co-ordinator at Bethel. Malloy-Smith witnessed firsthand the lack of proper medical equipment and supplies while on a medical missionary trip to Ukraine in 2000.
Although the Bethel committee helped start it, the “recycling program” now includes other churches and people across Ontario who have stepped forward to donate used wheelchairs, crutches, walkers, commode chairs, hearing aids and eyeglasses.
“I have been amazed at the quality of goods and the number of people wanting to help,” says Malloy-Smith. For example, a Toronto-based charity called Mano Con Mano (Hand in Hand) gathers used medical equipment. And the Lindsay Red Cross donates used medical supplies and wool.
Then there are the individuals. A 93-year-old Mennonite man in Kitchener, Ont., knitted 62 scarves on his knitting machine and is working on more.
Teenage Mennonites from the Lindsay area have sewn children’s outfits, water-resistant mitts and hats, and helped load the containers.
Plus there are elderly and physically challenged folks who have found ways to help by knitting teddy bears, vests, socks, mitts and scarves.
Items are stored at various locations in Lindsay until an overseas container can be filled.
The Lindsay group began its container-shipping program in 2002 after it participated in a successful outreach called Stuff the Bus. Stuff the Bus was started by San Lorenzo Anglican Church in Toronto to help victims of the El Salvador earthquake in July 2001.
Helping hands of all kinds can contribute by calling Bethel Church at 705-324-5729.