Archive for the 'Medical Mission to Africa' Category

Page 2 of 4

This is Africa: Headlamp Surgery

Practicing medicine in the jungles of Africa requires a certain flexibility that is hard to imagine here in the U.S. or western Europe.  However, thanks to the existence of youtube, we can see the challenges that face doctors in remote places all over the world.

This particular video brings back memories of the surgical marathon that went on in Maboye, Cameroon last summer. Dr. Bwelle slept about 8 hours for an entire 48 hour period and at one point the generator went out mid-operation.  Dr. Bwelle had us all turn our headlamps on to light the surgical field and on we continued as the generator was repaired.  That’s the way it goes in Africa.

Donations: Putting Your Money to Work

Many large nonprofit humanitarian organizations are fortunate enough to receive donations that cover their costs as well as pay employee salaries. While this is great for the organization, it isn’t necessarily ideal for donors because a major portion of your gift is paying for prime Manhattan office space or the CEOs salary.

One common metric used to evaluate nonprofits is called the program ratio, which is the percentage of an organization’s total expenditures that is devoted to programs and services. If as an organization you spend $80 to buy food for resettled refugees, and then pay people $20 to to hand it out – your program service ratio is 80% ($80 / ($80 + $20)). While not a perfect measuring stick, the program ratio is a decent gauge for the efficiency of a charity or non-profit.
Smaller organizations tend to have higher program ratios than larger organizations because larger nonprofits require a greater level of organization and administration. Let’s take a look at some examples of how some donations were used:

American Red Cross

In 2009, the American Red Cross took in about $3.3 billion. That year they spent a total of $3.4 billion in all: $1.7 billion (50%) on salaries and compensation, $600 million (12%) on “other expenses,” and the other $1.1 billion (33%) directly on programs. If you count salaries of employees as program expenses then their ratio was a very handsome 91%, but if you don’t, the ratio drops to about 33%. (Form 990)


MSF Financials

Medecins sans Frontiers, or Doctors without Borders, is an apolitical organization that seeks solely to provide medical care to those in dire need, not only those who are in need on the news. Although they are a smaller organization, their finances are more focused on the end beneficiary rather than the middle man. They took in $143 million in 2009, spent a total of $145 million: $112 million on programs (77%), $13 million on salaries and compensation (9%), $18 million on fundraising (13%), and $2.2 million on management and general (1.5%). Any way you look at it, at least 77% of the donations go directly to those in need. (Form 990)

Ascovime USA

Ascovime is small and entirely composed of volunteers so we have no administrative costs or salaries to pay out. In fact, Dr. Bwelle spends most of his salary to keep Ascovime going. 97% of donations go directly to program costs and Paypal gets their 3% cut, so ideally send a check to cut out that middle man. (Donate here) 

I’m not advocating for or against making a charitable donation, but merely trying to present what happens to the impact of your donation as the receiving organization increases with size.  Next time you consider making a donation to any organization, think about giving to smaller, local organizations because they will use more of your money to directly help the cause, whatever it may be.

Further reading

Drexel University Medical Team Headed to Africa with Ascovime

For the third year in a row, a team of students from Drexel University College of Medicine are embarking on volunteer mission with Ascovime to Cameroon. This summer they will work with humanitarian leader Dr. Georges Bwelle, who is a Cameroonian surgeon, to give free health care to over 2,000 patients in four rural villages in the jungles of Cameroon. Find out more about what they will be doing.

So far, the eight-member team has raised over $1000 in a few short weeks and has been tirelessly collecting supplies and medications from hospitals in the Philadelphia area. On April 17th, the volunteers will be holding an Art for Health fundraiser hosted by the Waterworks restaurant from 4-8pm. If you can, show up and make a donation to the great cause – overall, the team is shooting for a goal of $10,000 in donations before they leave for Cameroon in June.

If you can’t make it to this particular fundraiser, keep your eyes’ peeled or RSS feeds open for more events to come. In early May, likely the 7th, a Beef n’ Beer event is scheduled at a sports bar in Philadelphia so be on the lookout.

Best of luck to the fine medical students and humanitarians!

Show your support for Ascovime on Facebook or follow us on Twitter

Ascovime Donations

I just wanted to thank everyone again for donating to Dr. Bwelle’s missions in Cameroon, especially those who heard the story on Dick Gordon’s “The Story” on NPR.  At the moment, he’s stocking up and preparing to start all of his upcoming missions and thanks you all for the contributions.

The jungle surgeons of Ascovime

Due to other previous donations, I was able to wire him $900.00 before Christmas to help buy supplies and medications.  This new series of donations will be essential in providing more of these expensive medications for all the patients Dr. Bwelle helps.  Again, 100% of your donations will go to the people that really need the help!

Keep spreading the word, we’re almost at 100 different donors and $5000!  Go here to donate.

Thanks again!

Big Thanks to Global Links and MediFree

Donations for Christmas!

I traveled to Cameroon, a country on the Atlantic coast of Africa, this past May and June on a medical aid mission.  Upon my return, others have kept spreading the word of Ascovime, Dr. Georges Bwelle’s grassroots medical organization and have also continued donating.  NPR did a segment of “The Story” with Dick Gordon about Dr. Bwelle and Ascovime which helped bring in donations from all over the United States.  Along with many substantial monetary donations, others have expressed great interest in volunteering and donating medical supplies.

School and Medical Supplies

Global Links and MediFree have been generous enough to send two boxes worth of sutures (over 200), gauze, catheters, spinal needles, iodine swabs, as well as school supplies for African children.  This was all facilitated by the work of another small organization called Sutures Are A Human Right.  Please be sure to check these sites out and support.  Thanks again to Global Links, MediFree, and Sutures Are A Human Right!

Dr. Georges Bwelle on Public Radio

Dick Gordon in The Story on Dr. Georges BwelleHi everyone, it’s been a while since I posted something. I’ve just caught wind of an NPR story about Dr. Bwelle!  Dick Gordon of North Carolina Public Radio hosts a show called The Story and will be doing a piece on Dr. Georges Bwelle.  It should air in Vermont on Monday 10/18/2010 at 2pm. Check it out here:

Updated 10/18 – The Story is out:

The Story producer Anita “Bekang” Woodley was in Cameroon this past summer, with a tape recorder, looking for her own ancestral village when she happened upon the doctor by chance. Today, we’ll hear Anita’s story of returning to her village, and Dr. Georges’ story of bringing health care to rural Africans.

Blog posts from my trip to Cameroon, where I was lucky enough to join with Dr. Georges, are here. By the way, he can always use your help. Here’s how donations that we raised before my trip in the spring 2010 were used.

Thanks for coming in!

The Story producer Anita “Bekang” Woodley was in Cameroon this Anita croppedpast  summer, with a tape recorder, looking for her own ancestral village when she happened upon the doctor by chance. Today, we’ll hear Anita’s story of returning to her village, and Dr. Georges’ story of bringing health care to rural Africans.

Burlington Free Press Writes About Trip to Cameroon

Under the headline “UVM graduate discovers career in rural Africa” the Burlington Free Press printed nice follow-up article about my trip to Cameroon.

He recently returned from an intense four weeks in the African nation of Cameroon helping surgeon Georges Bwelle minister to those unable to afford medical care.

Bwelle’s base is Yaounde, the capital of Cameroon, but every weekend during the dry season he and a team of volunteers head into the poorer, rural sections of the country to set up free temporary clinics. None of the volunteers are paid for their efforts, and Bwelle doesn’t have the money to recruit help. He relies on word of mouth and the generosity of others.

Full Article

Back in America

Stay Classy Cameroon

Quick update: I safely touched down in the U.S. after a 24 hour journey from Cameroon.  The flights all went smoothly and I’m back home in Vermont.  I didn’t have internet for a week so I’ll be posting more stories of my experiences in the next couple days so stay tuned!

An Important Lesson About Women

If you’re a lady you’re probably already thinking, whoa there buster, take it easy.  And if you’re a man, you’re probably thinking this is going to be interesting…

During my medical mission in Cameroon, I have learned a great deal about the cultural differences between the Western world and Africa.  However, as they say, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  It seems like they’re worlds away from an economic standpoint, but when it comes to inter-spousal relations, they’re right in our ballpark.

Exhibit A: our friend Philippe came to the hospital on our surgery day, when Dr. Georges and I typically don’t see patients.  However, the back story of his plight was just too much for us not to stay a little late and fix him up.

Continue reading ‘An Important Lesson About Women’

Video Update! WOooh!