A second container, filled with equipment and supplies, on its way from Australia to enable the opening of a remote Health Centre in Zambia.

The African Bush Camps Foundation, through its long-standing experience in partnering with communities located in remote wildlife areas, is supporting the Maunga Community in Zambia; sourcing and developing relevant skills as well as procuring resources and financing, which is made possible through tourism being attracted to the area through Thorntree River Lodge, operated by African Bush Camps.

Recent African Bush Camps guests visiting the Health Centre structure from Thorntree River Lodge

An area of priority, identified by the community, is to improve access to health care facilities. Currently, members of this isolated, low-income community, located on the Western border of the Dambwa Forest Reserve in Southern Zambia, must travel 20 kilometres to the town of Livingstone for medical treatment. In response to this, a local site with an incomplete building was identified as a location to establish a health centre to serve the community.

Early stages on the construction, late 2018
Project Officer, Twaambo Siyomunji, inspects the building work

“The next steps of the project are to source funding to complete remunerating contractors for the basic construction of the building. Also to fit, furnish and equip the building and liaise with government on nursing accommodation in order for the facility to be stocked, staffed and function as a fully serviced health centre.”

The reconstruction of the Maunga Health Centre began in June 2018, when the African Bush Camps Foundation sourced material and worked with the community to procure skills to complete the building. The community were enthusiastically involved with the building process from the start. It was challenging work; carrying heavy materials, sand and cement, working against the clock to complete the roof before heavy seasonal rains arrived, but the community were adamant they would build the health centre and greatly improve access to basic facilities and empower the community to care for its members. In January 2019 the basic construction of the building was completed, to much jubilation from the community when African Bush Camps Foundation Board Members conducted a visit. The next steps of the project are to source funding to complete remunerating contractors for the basic construction of the building. Also to fit furnish and equip the building and liaise with government on nursing accommodation in order for the facility to be stocked, staffed and function as a fully serviced health centre.

An Australian based organisation, MedEarth – Saving Lives. Saving the Planet, ensured that the momentum kept going; sourcing medical equipment for the centre, including beds, examinations tables, blood pressure monitoring machines, stretchers, stethoscopes, thermometers, delivery beds, blankets, sheets, towels and more.

Beds, examinations tables, blood pressure monitoring machines, stretchers, stethoscopes, thermometers, delivery beds, blankets, sheets, towels and more being packed into the container.

Running out of Sydney, Australia MedEarth seeks to bridge the gap between “our surplus and the scarcity of others.” In Australia, the majority of medical equipment is replaced in hospitals, countrywide, every 2 years. MedEarth’s mission is to promote the protection and enhancement of Australia’s natural environment through a solid waste reduction programme, by repurposing and redistributing medical supplies and equipment that would otherwise be discarded by the health care industry.

One of the main deficiencies in access to healthcare in developing nations is a lack of resources. MedEarth believes that good healthcare should not be a luxury available only to people in high-income countries. Lara Garfinkel and Laura Taitz founded MedEarth in 2013, based on the inspiration provided by MedWish and its founder Dr Lee Ponsky. Laura and Lara realised that there was a gap in the medical waste landscape of Australia and that by forming MedEarth they could promote the protection and enhancement of the environment whilst helping to save lives.

MedEarth works with a range of partners to recover usable medical supplies and equipment that hospitals no longer want and would otherwise be destined for landfill. As part of the environmental protection program, MedEarth redistributes the medical items recovered to communities in desperate need of them. It’s a simple, yet extraordinarily important process.

African Bush Camps Foundation appreciates the work and assistance of Rebecca Truong BBs, the Operations Manager for MedEarth. With a background in high-performance team management, project management and consulting with 20 years+ working in large IT and Financial Services corporations, Rebecca is passionate about making a tangible difference to the lives of communities in the developing world and has been instrumental in organizing the medical equipment for the Maunga Health Centre and also for the clinic in the Mola Community near Bumi Hills Safari Lodge. Without her care, advice and hard work the African Bush Camps Foundation would not have been able to access and ship the equipment required.

Sincere appreciation must also go to Barry Barford, a logistician and shipper of medical aid worldwide by sea, air and land modes. He has been wonderful in managing the shipment of the Maunga container.  He has shipped containers to Zimbabwe and other African countries previously. Barry is also experienced in field operations and has particular interests in the Pacific Islands, Nepal and the Democratic Republic of Congo. He also manages the Berrima District Rotary Project; Medical Aid for Oceania and Worldwide, which provides support and funding for medical aid projects, see more here – www.berrimarotary.org.au/mafo. It is with Barry’s assistance and guidance the financial contribution from Medical Aid for Oceania and Worldwide for a shipping container destined for the Maunga Community in Zambia that the 20ft container is now on the high seas bound for Beira in Mozambique and then overland to Livingstone in Zambia. The container is due to arrive around the 28 May.

Part of the development of this project is to install solar powered electricity as well as a solar borehole to service both the health centre and the nearby primary school. If you’re interested in supporting please contact us here to get involved.

We would also like to thank Jan Haysom, Kaye Schonwillie, Marie Lee, David & Emily Norman family and friends for their contributions of linen and towels for the Maunga community.

Soon the Maunga Clinic will have new beds and medical equipment and a very proud community as well, ready to progress the project to its next stages and have a facility, built by the community for the community.

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