Toothbrush, spare socks, scalpel ....
Group asks travellers to bring medical supplies along
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.”
A recent delivery in Indonesia. The items are donated by hospitals and clinics in Canada.