You may have noticed in our communications that we often refer to “our partners.” I’ve decided to use this last post of our summer blog series to talk a little about them.
For all we are able to do, Solidarity Bridge is actually a small organization, with just eight of us on staff in the U.S., most part-time. Fortunately there are numerous individuals, organizations, foundations, and corporations who stand beside us to make our mission possible. The dozens of missioners who join us each year on our mission trips are the most obvious example – they are the ones who do the hands-on training of the South American doctors who perform the surgeries provided through our year-round programs. Those Bolivian and Paraguayan doctors, and the hospitals in which they work, are in turn what we often refer to as “our local partners.” We occasionally establish formal agreements for joint efforts with other entities in Bolivia and Paraguay as well. Recent examples include Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and the Municipal Government of Aiquile, with whom we have collaborated (along with the Carmen Lopez Hospital and several individual doctors) since 2011 to treat Chagas disease patients in Aiquile.
Another group of partners encompasses those who support us through big and small in-kind and financial donations. These include many individuals, foundations, and companies, each of whom plays a critical role. In fact, one key contact person or organization can be the source of an indispensable donation that allows us to save hundreds of lives. Such is the case of Medtronic. The Medtronic Corporation and the Medtronic Foundation are essential partners in our Pacemaker Program, thanks to their respective pacemaker and financial donations. It is with those donations, for example, that we have been able to implant nearly 1500 pacemakers over the years, including over 50 through the Aiquile Chagas project.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, Ann Rhomberg and I recently accompanied two Medtronic delegates, Heather Hudnut Page and Prasanga Hiniduma-Lokuge, to Bolivia to visit the sites and partners and to meet several of the patients treated through our Pacemaker Program. While there, we also held meetings with the local partners and visited some of the sites of our Neurological, General, and Open Heart Surgery Programs.
Solidarity Bridge is honored to enjoy the trust and fellowship shown to us by Medtronic, and it was a great pleasure to personally share with Prasanga and Heather the joy we reap every day when we see health and quality of life restored among our patients.
Solidarity Bridge also has fair trade partnerships through which we connect Bolivian cooperatives and women entrepreneurs to fair trade businesses here in the US. Learn more on our website: http://www.solidaritybridge.org/trademission.html
Finally, I cannot conclude my brief discussion of our Solidarity Bridge partners without mentioning YOU. The truth is that it is the many individuals like you, who selflessly support us every day with your prayers, your volunteer time here in the office or on mission, and your financial and in-kind contributions, who make it all possible.
Thank you for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Solidarity Bridge!
Be sure to watch for our next blog postings from Bolivia during our September 2013 Multi-Specialty and Neurological Surgery Mission Trips!