Crutches 4 Africa Update
I won't go back too far with this, just to June. On the 12th of that month a 40-foot container was loaded and sent to Mombasa, Kenya. Sounds easy doesn't it? That four letter word "sent" takes up way more space in reality than it does in print.
The container, once sealed, was trucked to a Denver area railhead and was moved to Houston, TX. It was then loaded onto the MSC “Flaminia” container ship on the 28th of June. We used an online tracking tool to see the ports of call where our container would shift to a new ship and continue its journey. This tracking tool shows the position of the ship during its time upon the open sea.
As I was working late one night, 7 days into our ship’s journey in open water, I checked the tracking tool and saw that our ship was in the middle of the Atlantic, headed NE toward Europe. Hmmm…. looking more closely at the details, I see that this ship is heading for--hey, Belgium isn't in Africa! On the next night, I checked the tracking site again and read this headline: MSC "Flaminia" Explodes, Burns, and Crew Abandons Ship. My first thought was "steep learning curve ahead". After three days of rapid emails we received word that our container had been removed from the "Flaminia" two and a half days before the incident at sea. Were we on the wrong ship? Taken off just in time? What do you think? That container did reach dry ground again in October and is now resting in Mombasa, Kenya awaiting distribution.
Rotary (the service club) is a big part of all that we accomplish at C4A. In September, I spoke at a Rotary zone meeting in Kansas City, MO. This gathering was a conference for the leadership of Rotary districts representing 12 states and was an ideal situation to speak about disability and the need for mobility in the developing world. This is now leading into an expanded area of collection and an opportunity to connect with more people and encourage them through sharing mobility gear for the “invisible people”.
At the end of September, we flew to Philadelphia where we rented a 24-foot box truck. Over the next three days we processed and loaded it with salvaged mobility devices (md’s). In the middle of packing (forklift and just stacking by hand) I had another opportunity to share the vision of this endeavor to a Rotary club there in Philly. That afternoon, we drove to NJ where we stayed with friends from Kenya who live there in the piney woods.
Next day we drove toward NYC, parked the big truck, rented a cargo van, and drove into NYC, twice (uh-oh, I am in the wrong lane?!). We made it to our rendezvous site in Brooklyn only a few minutes late. This gentleman, Tim, has been collecting for C4A for several years. Almost single handedly he collected an entire air cargo shipment that was distributed in Tanzania in 2008. Since then, we always find he has collected more, and all without a vehicle. We loaded the van full.
Back in NJ, it rained on us as we transferred the md’s from van to truck, returned the van, and headed north into CT. The next morning in about as rural as you can get in CT (what a contrast from NYC the day before!) where we met for the first time a collector there who has also been working for Crutches 4 Africa for many years. This last pickup loaded our truck to the point it was hard to close or re-open the back door. Most of these md’s were unloaded in Dracut, MA to fill out a 40-footer headed to Tororo, Uganda. This is the same place we started C4A with 235 pairs of crutches. After 2 days unloading the truck, organizing the md’s, and reloading them into the container, we headed for Portland, Maine with 25 remaining wheelchairs. More about them in a minute.
There in Maine we stayed with dedicated friends of C4A who had arranged for a week of Rotary club speaking engagements. This saw us traveling by donated car, (because the truck was returned in Maine) into three states, Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.
Now, about those wheelchairs…late in July I was contacted by a friend of C4A in Maine with a request for a 40-footer to go to Northern Nigeria to accompany a polio vaccination effort there. A team of orthopedic surgeons will also be going in to perform polio reconstructive surgeries and those people will need mobility devices. There will also be hundreds of people who will come hoping for surgery but will not be eligible. Many will also receive help from this container. This shipment was to ship out of Maine as they had enough to fill half a container. Our challenge was to see the container filled, and quickly.
So from Maine we flew down to Atlanta, GA where a convention of home durable medical equipment distributors was ready to commence. We attended this convention and found a distributor who donated 10 palettes of md’s, mostly wheelchairs, arranged for shipping to Maine, where they will arrive on Monday the 29th of October, and a where a 40-foot container will arrive the next day at 1pm for loading by volunteers from Rotary.
UPDATE: This container loading date has been canceled due to hurricane Sandy and will be rescheduled after the storm passes.
At the moment we are coordinating the distribution trip to Kenya slated to begin for us on November 15th with VPs from the donating company coming over on the first of December to help with some of the distribution. We will return to Denver on Monday, December 17th. Somewhere in all of this, the container for Uganda will also need to be picked up and shipped.
And don't forget our fundraiser On February 2nd, the day before the Super Bowl. We’re holding the annual Cabin Fever Chili Cook-off at Mt. Vernon Country Club in Golden, CO. Sponsors and auction items are needed. Please see our website for more information.
David & Candice Talbot
PS. David has a birthday soon and he has asked for a gift of African, hand carved crutch tips for people who receive the md's. We would like to surprise him with 1,000 pairs! At one dollar each, our target is to raise $2,000 for these tips. Donate through PayPal on our website or send checks to: Crutches 4 Africa, 284 S. Franklin St. Denver, CO, 80209