Medical supplies – check. Vaccinations – check. Passport and visa – check, check. Don’t forget to turn down the thermostat and stop the mail.
In just a few short days, the first of our two Ethiopia teams begin their long voyage to Project Mercy. It’s hard to believe how fast time flies. Over the past several months, our volunteers have spent countless hours in preparation for this moment; the meetings, the emails, the last second organizing that inevitably comes just before departure. Soon, you’ll be able to share in our stories. Stories of joy, stories of sadness, crazy stories, funny stories, and the stories of everyday life at Project Mercy.
It’s these stories, the stories of our volunteers, which add a human dimension to the work we do while providing just a glimpse of reality into a world very different from our own. There is much preparation that goes into understanding where we are and where we are going, and there are many… many people who have helped prepare us along the way. We would be remiss not to mention them here while at the same time, providing you, our readers, a window into just how much goes on, in making these global partnerships a reality.
Thank you to Joanna Schneider, a UW-LaCrosse student, born and raised in Ethiopia, who volunteered her own time to join one of our meetings, providing a unique perspective and invaluable insight into life and culture inside Ethiopia.
Thank you to to Denise Nicholson and Jill Blackbourn who demonstrated the use of essential oils and how they can be applied in a healthcare setting.
Thank you to Sherry Westby for all the time and effort that went into making our travel arrangements.
Thank you to Jennifer Gipp OD, who provided instruction into vision screening and how to identify trachoma, a condition that if not caught, can eventually lead to blindness. We should also mention Jenn spent more than two hours on the dark, winter roads to make our meeting happen.
Thank you to Chester Hilton, a surgical RN, who taught us how to prepare and work in an operating room environment.
Thank you to Lori Schams, a repeat volunteer to our African sites, along with current volunteers Rosie Nelson and Kathy Flatoff who provided our nursing staff invaluable insight as to what they can expect in Project Mercy’s hospital setting.
Thank you to the Gundersen Health Systems kitchen staff who provided delicious meals for all of our gatherings.
Thank you to our volunteers themselves, many whom have taken on expanded roles in gathering donations and supplies for our trip. Thanks to Rosie for securing laundry and scrubs we will be taking along. Thanks to Cheryl, Laura, and Sally who have sewn aprons which will go to the Project Mercy kitchen staff, as well as the surgical bonnets and caps to be used by our on-site medical staff. Thanks to the Gundersen Health Systems IT staff for providing flat screen monitors and computers, loaded with software for us to take along. Thanks to Dr. Sig Gundersen, one of our surgeons, who continues work to secure a device that will allow medical tools to be resharpened rather than be disposed once they become dull.
Thank you to Lisa Sauer for providing her expertise in helping guide us through the donation request process and helping obtain needed supplies for the medical teams.
Thanks to the many individuals, businesses, and organizations who have donated supplies or made monetary donations to our cause.
The list could go on and on. So many thanks go to so many people, all of whom have helped us prepare the past several months.
There are two extra special “Thanks You’s” that need to go out to those responsible for making all of this happen.
First, a big Thank You to our entire Global Partners staff. Liz Arnold, our Global Partners Administrative Director heads up this amazing group. Liz, along with Ashley Zibrowski, work tirelessly to ensure not only a well-organized, positive, experience for our volunteers, but also strive to develop a long-term sustainable vision for each of our Global Partners sites.
Last, but certainly not least, the biggest of the Thank You’s belong to Jeff and Sally Hillesland, Deb Rislow, and Ellen Hanson. Simply put, these team leaders are the glue that put this whole thing together. Their impeccable organizational skills and leadership have allowed our Global Partners African site to flourish. This year, for the first time ever, not one, but two Global Partners teams will visit Project Mercy. The endless hours they spend… the phone calls, the hundreds of e-mails, preparing presentations and attending meetings, the research, the organization of many things you read about above and many more you didn’t… those hours aren’t a labor of toil for Jeff, Sally, Deb and Ellen but a labor of love. Their devotion to improving the lives of both the people of Project Mercy and those who volunteer can be an inspiration to us all. They have told us on many occasion, one of their most rewarding experiences from this work is seeing how volunteers are affected, each in their own way, enriched by places and faces they came to know along the journey. Jeff, Sally, Deb and Ellen… thanks for all you do!!
Finally, a big thank you to our families for putting in that extra effort while we’re away and allowing us to continue our work at Project Mercy. We couldn’t do it without you. And thanks to you, our readers and followers. We love to hear your comments, whether they’re about what we’re doing, or things going on at home. Each morning at breakfast, the previous day’s comments are read for the entire group so please, keep them coming.
Stay tuned… the first blog entry of our 2015 trip comes later this week!