HELENA – A Helena nonprofit is looking to 2019 with plans to continue its work getting medical supplies to areas of the world that need assistance.
“They really have no choice. The whole infrastructure of their world is blown up.”
That’s how Hands On Global Executive Director Valerie Hellermann explains the situation facing thousands of refugees.
The group recently returned from the Moria refugee camp in Greece, where they worked to deliver medical supplies to some of the 12,000 people there.
“Predominantly they are fleeing from Syria and Afghanistan,” said Hellermann. “These people are fleeing from war, from economic devastation, environmental devastation, political and religious persecution. Nobody is leaving because they want to.”
Their work also takes them to Zanskar, in northern India. People there are not fleeing their home, rather they are in need of assistance in developing a healthcare system.
“There is a hospital that the Dalai Lama built and he asked Hands On Global to open,” said Hellermann. “So every year we go and we build on that hospital. We bring equipment, and we bring a team of doctors, nurses and non-medical providers to help us. And we are building a healthcare system that is sustainable.”
Hellermann says 90 percent of donations to Hands On Global go towards the medical supplies they deliver. Volunteers pay their own way to India and Greece.
She said what happens in the U.S. has a ripple effect across the globe.
“We live globally now. We’re not isolated anymore,” said Hellermann. “So what happens in Europe is affecting us, our lifestyles effect how economics work in other parts of the world, it goes back and forth. So, now at our southern border, this is really effecting a lot of people in the United States.”
And that is their next stop. Several Hands on Global volunteers are already at the southern border helping provide medical care.
Hellermann said they’ll continue to assess what role they can play in helping and will visit all three locations in 2019.
–Melissa Jensen reporting for MTN News