The recent heat that’s swept across the UK has had us all running for ice-creams, cold drinks and air-conditioned rooms. It’s a rare occasion for us to have such an extended “summer” but we are all making the most of it. And despite that we rarely have the need for air-conditioning or ice (!), the fact is, we can get it when we need it. But on the opposite end of the scale, for the likes of communities in third-world countries, access to necessities like clean water, electricity and a steady supply of food can be challenging, and access to luxuries such as an iced drink or air-conditioning is near impossible.
Operation Sunshine is a UK-based charity staffed by volunteers, many of whom are pensioners. The organisation focuses on alleviating poverty and hardship in developing communities in Africa, notably Lesotho and Zambia. In Zambia, the organisation supports clinics, hospitals and schools by supplying donated goods – everything and anything from household items (Tupperware and towels) to medical supplies (paracetamol to wheelchairs) – as well as time and skills.
One of the many places that Operation Sunshine supports is a cataract clinic run out of Kitwe Central Hospital. This is not a clinic based on UK standards as it is run in the bush, from Land Rovers and trailers. In these conditions, there is a lack of clean water and a lot of dust which makes operations challenging.
At Econocom UK, we strive to live our values, which are focused on respect, responsibility and community. This is why we are supporting the team at Operation Sunshine by donating 8,000 surgical masks, which can cost thousands of pounds to purchase in the UK.
The doctors will put some of these to good use in the cataract clinic, where they currently have to re-use the same mask several days in a row. Additional boxes of the masks will also find their way to Sister Rosario, a surgeon who works at a rural hospital on Chilubi Island.
We spoke to Iain Callander, a long-serving volunteer: “Since the charity was established in 1984, we have helped a number of communities across nine different African countries. We’re a Christian charity that is supported by church communities throughout Kent and we periodically put together containers of supplies and ship them off – at the moment between five and six 40-foot containers every year. Beyond that we also work with schools and children and have established a number of small schools in rural areas and the poorer areas of Lusaka. We also focus on helping to provide life skills like carpentry and sewing, and are actively looking to set up dedicated skill centres.”
“All of our efforts depend on volunteers and donations, which is why we’re delighted with this contribution from Econocom UK. The surgical masks are certainly going to make a huge difference to the lives of the medical professionals who dedicate their time and resources to helping these struggling communities.”
To find out more about the charity and how you can help, please visit their website: http://www.operationsunshine.co.uk/