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Global Health Thought Leader Uncategorized

Worldwide Disaster Relief: Together We Can Make a Difference

Monsoon flooding, catastrophic mudslides, multiple consecutive hurricanes, and record-breaking earthquakes. It seems like unprecedented natural disasters have been happening every day over the past few weeks.

But what we’ve also found in that time is that incredible generosity and human kindness happen every day too. I continue to be in awe of humanity and the human spirit. Since establishing supply drives through our Disaster Relief Program, everyday humanitarians have donated over 15,000 pounds of supplies for their neighbors in need, both near and far. We’ve had volunteers come in for Hurricane Irma relief who find out that others are suffering in Sierra Leone and Bangladesh and decide that they want to get involved. They realize the deep connection between the communities rebuilding in Florida and those recovering in Freetown.

When we sent out an appeal for basic care supplies – diapers, bandages, hand sanitizer, the kinds of supplies desperately needed by shelters and emergency aid clinics – we hoped that a few volunteers would drop off extra items from the back of their pantry or pick up a few things when they went to the store. We never expected a local bank to make a surprise delivery of more than 7,000 pounds of essential aid products or for Atlanta Falcon, Dontari Poe, to donate in support of our mission. But that was just the beginning. As more donations were delivered, more healthcare communities and Medical Mission Teams showed up to put our supplies to good use. These volunteer medical professionals are generously giving their time and expertise in communities where hospitals have been destroyed and injured people desperately await treatment after the trauma of disaster.

Angel Flight Soars was one of these groups. A nonprofit that uses donated private planes and volunteer pilots to deliver medical aid to those in need, Angel Flight Soars found MedShare while preparing to travel to St. Thomas to support Roy Schneider Medical Center. It is the only hospital on the island and its roof was torn off by Irma’s record-breaking winds. Patients were evacuated to medical tents and makeshift clinics, while medical staff struggled to make do with what supplies they had. With the help of MedShare and WellStar Health Systems, Angel Flight Soars was able to deliver 4,000 pounds of medical supplies and medicines to hospital staff so that they could treat their displaced patients. This was made possible by donated supplies and medicines being carried in donated planes flown by volunteer pilots – proof positive that where there’s a community in need, there are always communities with the resources and the drive to help. We just need to work together.

It’s no secret that we tend to come together in times of crisis, but the outpouring of generosity that we’ve seen from our local community was unexpected in these deeply divided times. It seems that when we are reminded that our neighbors’ basic needs are the same as our own, the divide made by space and circumstance feels a whole lot smaller. As our communities pull together, disasters become opportunities, and great need is met with even greater giving. It is in times like these that my faith in humanity is reaffirmed.

If you’d like to get involved with MedShare’s disaster relief efforts, visit www.medshare.org/flood-relief.  


By Charles Redding, Chief Executive Officer & President of MedShare

Photo: MedShare’s Disaster Relief program has responded to disasters in nine countries and treated more than 1.4 million people impacted by natural disasters.

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