Saturday, January 17, 2015

Adventures with Soup, Cookies, and Helping People in Bolivia

Do those three things go together? Yes! During January many of us as volunteers are intensifying the sorting of medical supplies and equipment for Mano a Mano. One staff person left her job to take a new job in Colorado --that means Mano a Mano has lost 33% of its staff in the United States. Yes, in 2014 it had only three paid staff in the United States and all the rest of the work was done by volunteers.

Now a very experienced volunteer had taken over the task of coordinating the volunteer activities for sorting the donated supplies. For many years there was always a Friday afternoon sorting time. This has now been restored. And the volunteer coordinator had the idea of doing a Soup and Sort on Tuesday nights in January -- trying to reach those who are not available for a Friday afternoon.

So here's the news about Soup and Sort.

We meet at 5:00 PM. One of the volunteers who is an excellent cook makes soup and that couple also brings some bread to accompany it.

Here's the Carrot-Ginger soup from last Tuesday night.

It was yummy!

And my traditional job has been to bring cookies for the sorting time.

Here is a bag of Snickerdoodles on the way to the Soup and Sort. I have been looking at a lot of recipes for Snickerdoodles trying to find one that meets my memory of how these should be. For this I made the Trisha Yearwood recipe I found with Food Network app on my Kindle. Everyone liked this version very much so it will probably be baked now about once a month.

But what do we sort?

Here is a view of things waiting for our hands. Things come from all over the Twin Cities. I also got into some boxes yesterday that were very carefully packed and labeled and sent here by HERO -- which stands for Health Equipment Recycling Organization. This group is apparently based in Fargo, ND.

Things are sorted into 10 different categories. For example, 1 is for orthopedic supplies and equipment; 2 is hospital linens, scrub clothing, and baby clothing; and 5 is misc. medical equipment -- everything from syringes to ventilator tubing. We also have a category 11 which stands for Doctor Evaluate. This is for materials past their expiration date but just seem too valuable to throw away. When these materials reach Bolivia one of the physicians there will sort these materials to see if they can be safely used in Boliva -- for example, perhaps these materials might be resterilized.

During the past couple of weeks we have put together boxes to make a pallet.

Last year enough materials were sorted to load in 5 containers which went in two shipments -- two containers packed out in February and 3 containers packed out in November. The ones sent in November have now reached a port in Chile. It may take yet another six months for these materials to clear customs and then make a final trip to Cochabamba, Bolivia where Mano a Mano International is based in Bolivia.

During the past couple of days I've tackled t-shirts. These are good t-shirts we think can be used by those who do construction work in Bolivia for Mano a Mano. They've been in warehouse awhile so I brought them home for laundering before they are packed.

If readers are curious please use the link above to find out more about Mano a Mano and the work this group does in Bolivia. It takes a lot of money to ship a container to Bolivia and if any readers are interested in helping just a little bit you may find a donation link here: donations

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