Contributed by Lindsay Belvedere of the Vancouver British Columbia Stake
On Saturday, February 16, members of the Vancouver Stake YSA and their friends gathered together at a Vancouver General Hospital warehouse to sort and package medical supplies for the Korle Bu Neuroscience Foundation (KBNF). Started in 2000 by Vancouver-based neuroscience nurse Marj Ratel, KBNF is a volunteer-based organization that focuses on providing medical support for brain and spinal injuries and disease to the people of Ghana and other West African nations. KBNF collects donated medical equipment and supplies, including beds, stretchers, mattresses, tools, operating room and nursing suppliesand operating room drapes, scrubs, towels, bed linen, socks, gowns, and blankets, from Western Canadian health authorities. These items are then sorted, packaged and shipped in containers to West African nations. Currently Ghana and Nigeria are recipients and it is hoped that Liberia and Sierra Leone will receive containers as resources become available.
As a health sciences student at Simon Fraser University, I learned about the health care systems of many nations came to understand that certain things we as Canadians expect when we go to the hospital such as bed linens, clothing and even food, are not always provided by hospitals in many other nations, including those in much of Africa. In nations like Ghana, when someone becomes ill and requires hospital-based care, it is often up to the family to provide basics like sheets, blankets and supplies for their hospitalized loved one. For people living in poverty, this requirement increases anxiety and challenges for them, especially when such basics, considered luxuries, are simply out of reach. Through shipping essentials to nations like Ghana, KBNF is helping reduce the stress of hospital stays for the families of sick individuals.
It is also at Simon Fraser University where I befriended Christina, who upon graduation, went to work for KBNF. Last November, Christina had gathered all her friends together at KBNF’s warehouse to sort and package medical supplies for her birthday. She considered this service rendered by her friends her birthday present, but was unsure how she would gather so many people together again to help out when it was next needed. I saw this need as a perfect service opportunity for the Vancouver Stake YSA! I told Christina that I had a whole church full of people who would love nothing more than to spend an afternoon serving, and that together we would make this happen.
Three months later, more than 50 members and friends of the Vancouver Stake YSA gathered at that same warehouse and spent the afternoon folding towels, pairing socks, bagging clothes, and boxing up blankets. New friendships were made, laughter was shared and the joy that can only be found through serving others was felt. The efficiency, diligence and hard work by all those in attendance left Christina and other members of KBNF incredibly impressed. A friend of Christina’s marvelled at the fact that so many young adults came together to serve on a Saturday afternoon when there were other things they could have been doing with their time. I, however, was not surprised. I knew that their willingness to serve was driven by a love for their Savior, Jesus Christ, and our Heavenly Father. As in the words of Jesus: “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew 25:40)
Assisting KBNF was a reminder to all in attendance that we are all God’s children, no matter what country we live in. It also helped us to understand that we are able to assist those living on the other side of the world. Ultimately, service to our fellow brothers and sisters is service to God, and that is a key lesson that all who gave of their time are sure to remember.