By Sue Ellen Ross Post-Tribune correspondent March 26, 2013 1:28PM
Clockwise from top left: Mohammad Musa, of Munster, Pete Ward of Lansing, Ill., and Richard Miller, of Hobart, stack medical supplies as volunteers with Children of Abraham load a container of donated supplies. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media
For more information about
the Children of Abraham, visit www.coa-worldwide.org or call 513-0003.
Updated: April 28, 2013 6:13AM
Twelve hundred boxes of medical supplies, 15 beds and mattresses, and dozens of pieces of medical equipment including wheelchairs, crutches and gurneys recently were packed and loaded at a Munster warehouse.
But this shipment of donations wasn’t bound for local medical clinics or hospitals. After being boxed and labeled by volunteers from the Children of Abraham, a local non-profit organization, it was scheduled to travel overseas to Akleh Hospital in Amman, Jordan. This hospital has devoted two floors of its facility to Syrian refugees.
In total, the Children of Abraham organization has shipped to 36 countries around the world, including the recent shipment to Jordan.
“The mission of Children of Abraham is to collect medical supplies and send them at no cost to areas of the world where there is need,” said Champ Merrrick, who began the organization 12 years ago and serves as its president. “We ship only to charitable hospitals or some hospitals with a large percentage of charitable patients.”
Along with 18 fellow COA volunteers, Mohammad Musa and Bob Brown headed up the manual labor for the most recent loading project.
“This (type of assistance) shows cooperation between cultures is beneficial and possible,” Brown said. “As for all of the volunteers involved, this also shows their hearts are in the right place.”
Once the container was filled for the recent Jordan project, it traveled by train to New York.
Once there, it was placed on a ship to travel through the waterways with the final destination of the Jordan Hospital.
Local physicians Abdul Kawamleh and Kevin Mark were instrumental in organizing the Jordan shipment.
Kawamleh has family in Syria and realizes firsthand the impact of a lack of important medical care and scarcity of supplies.
“I’ve been to Jordan twice in the past year, visiting refugee camps and hospitals. The healthcare need is huge there,” he said. “There were thousands of people in one camp alone.”
He added that COA’s efforts are nothing short of marvelous.
“What they are doing is more than just sending medical equipment. They are sending the message that the American people do care about the refugees — and the medical community that serves them.”
The truckloads consist of surplus supplies and good-quality used equipment from hospitals and medical locations in Chicago and Northwest Indiana, east to the South Bend area.
The value of the recent shipment to Jordan was estimated at $500,000.
Children of Abraham is supported by several area Christian churches, the Northwest Indiana Islamic Center, and Temple Israel, according to Merrick. “It’s important to note that we do not try to spread religion, however, we only try to help people around the world with needed medical supplies.”
In the case of Syrian refugees, there is a huge need with the thousands of people flowing into Jordan from Syria, according to COA. In addition, the group has a container on the way to Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, where Syrian refugees also are settling.
And, past loads have found their way to Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and to a hospital on the Mount of Olive in Jerusalem, among others.