Tooth­brush, spare socks, scalpel ....

Group asks trav­ellers to bring med­i­cal sup­plies along

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - TORONTO - Gil­bert Ngabo Metro | Toronto

A lo­cal group wants Toronto trav­ellers to be couri­ers, too — and help save lives in the process.

Next time you’re head­ing on va­ca­tion to that re­motest end of the world, think Not Just Tourists Toronto. The pro­ject, which has ex­panded to other cities around the coun­try, calls on trav­ellers to take a suit­case of med­i­cal sup­plies and de­liver it to clin­ics where they are badly needed.

Us­ing do­na­tions from lo­cal hos­pi­tals and clin­ics, vol­un­teers gather med­i­ca­tions and other health equip­ment and wrap them up into suit­cases. Will­ing tourists can then help carry them to health cen­tres in coun­tries around the world.

“It’s all mainly done through a good word of mouth and it has been re­ally pow­er­ful,” said Claudia Hon, the act­ing co-or­di­na­tor of the pro­ject.

Vol­un­teers, in­clud­ing nurses and doc­tors, gather in the base­ment of Em­manuel Howard Park United Church in Ron­ces­valles vil­lage to sort and pack the sup­plies.

How do they know where to send the sup­plies? Some­times clin­ics will con­tact them di­rectly, hav­ing learned about them online or through di­as­pora groups. Or the other way around: im­mi­grants from needy coun­tries come out and help make con­nec­tions.

From ru­ral clin­ics in Uganda and Nige­ria to hos­pi­tals in In­done­sia, Haiti and Honduras, the pro­ject has de­liv­ered thou­sands of suit­cases to more than 80 coun­tries.

“It is heart­warm­ing to hear sto­ries of moth­ers and chil­dren who are ben­e­fit­ing from these sup­plies,” said Hon.

She said the pro­ject is al­ways in need of vol­un­teers to help sort and wrap the do­na­tions as well as trav­ellers who can reach out to the re­motest ar­eas where the need is greater.

“We don’t have peo­ple work­ing on this on a full-time ba­sis,” she said. “We’re just based on good­will, and that can some­times be dif­fi­cult.”

Con­trib­uted

A re­cent de­liv­ery in In­done­sia. The items are do­nated by hos­pi­tals and clin­ics in Canada.

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