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The supplies may be donated, but it takes money to truck them, warehouse them and ship them to Africa. Doc to Dock relies on funding raised from corporations and philanthropic sources, plus in-kind donations from trucking and shipping companies who often move supplies for minimal or no cost.
In addition to supplies, Dr. Charash is looking for equipment. Many hospitals and clinics replace equipment, still in perfect working order, with newer models. Anesthesia machines, cryosurgery machines, mammogram machines, and cancer screening equipment, have found their way to African hospitals.
The sonogram traveled to Tepa District Hospital by way of a 40-foot shipping container, along with other supplies and equipment once destined for a U.S. scrap heap. The district serves about 100,000 villagers, and the hospital had been saving its nickels—one at a time—to purchase its own sonogram. The fundraising drive would have taken 10 years. One can only guess how many babies would have died in the meantime.
Through 2008, Doc to Dock had shipped nine containers to Ghana, Benin, Liberia, East Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. Another container went to Haiti following a devastating hurricane. Four or five additional containers are just about ready to ship, Dr. Charash says. Each container costs about $25,000 per shipment. Dr. Charash estimates each shipment delivers approximately $500,000 worth of supplies and equipment.
Dr. Charash, who maintains privileges at Lenox and Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Manhattan, dreams big. He defines success by growing Doc to Dock to 100 containers per year within five years. He also wants to increase the number of hospitals donating goods, and the number of third-world hospitals receiving the supplies. Additionally, he wants to make the charity self-sustaining, as the need is always greater than the resources available.
“It’s a moral issue,” he says. “I have an obligation not to let it go to waste.” TH
Carol Berczuk is a freelance writer in New York CIty.