Medical Donations Program Heroes — From the Philippines to Sierra Leone and Sudan
CMMB’s Medical Donations Program has deployed over 3,000 shipments with a total value of more than $4 billion worth of medicines and medical supplies in 88 countries over the last ten years. In partnership with trusted local partners on the ground, we are delivering medicine free-of-charge to help treat the most vulnerable people in the world. Medical Donation Program Heroes make it possible for those donations to have the maximum impact.
Medical Donations Program Hero: Sister Wioletta Sobieska
Sister Wioletta Sobieska leads a mission in the Philippines through the Congregation of the Ursuline Sisters of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus. Founded in 1920, the Congregation dedicates its missions to serving the poor with over 900 sisters serving in 12 countries. Together with CMMB’s Medical Donations Program, Sister Wioletta’s mission has increased healthcare access to the vulnerable and helped to strengthen the healthcare system in Tagaytay, Philippines.
Sister Wioletta speaking before a group in the Philippines.
From Poland to the Philippines
Sister Wioletta first joined the Ursuline Sisters in 1990 in her native country of Poland. In 2002, she helped found a new mission in the city Tagaytay, located south of the capital Manila. During the past 18 years in the Philippines, Sister Wioletta and the mission have provided food, education, and medical care to the poorest families and individuals living in the city’s surrounding slums.
Among the services provided by the mission, Sister Wioletta is passionate about the prison ministry program in cooperation with the Archbishop of Manila, the Bishop of Imus, and other religious and non-religious volunteers. The program is based in the belief that poverty is a leading driver of incarceration in the Philippines. Sister Wioletta and the prison ministry program support incarcerated people by strengthening ties with their families, their community, and their faith.
View of Taal Volcano Eruption via Adisidis/Wikimedia
Sister Wioletta and CMMB Respond to Volcano Eruption
CMMB began providing donations to support Sister Wioletta and her work through the Bukas Loob Say Diyos Trenton Foundation (BLD Trenton) in New Jersey. The group performs annual mission trips to the Philippines, and much of their local coordination is performed by Sister Wioletta. BLD Trenton typically fills a 40-foot shipping container with medicines and other humanitarian relief items, shipped in advance to coincide for arrival with their mission trip.
In January 2020, a 40-foot shipping container of medicines and medical supplies sailed for the Philippines to support Sister Wioletta and the mission. Weeks before BLD Tenton’s departure, Taal Volcano—located dangerously close to the mission’s project area— erupted, spewing volcanic ash into the atmosphere. The ash spread for miles, forcing entire communities to flee at a moment’s notice for refuge.
Sister Wioletta and her team immediately began helping displaced people to shelter and provide them with food and medical care. She coordinated with BLD Trenton for CMMB to send a second emergency donation of medicines and supplies that the team brought with them to the Philippines. This donation included N95 masks to protect community members and emergency responders from the ash-laden air.
Serving the overlooked, Sister Wioletta also visited incarcerated people in the area who were unable to evacuate. She provided them with critical care and importantly, a reminder that they had not been forgotten.
Medical Donations Program Hero: Victor Lamin
Victory Lamin is the founder of Sierra Lyoa Medical Foundation, a nonprofit based in the United States and Sierra Leone that seeks to bridge the gap in maternal mortality and morbidity in regional Sierra Leone with the slogan: “no woman should lose their life trying to give life.”
Victor Lamin, Founder of Sierra Lyoa Medical Foundation
Victor was born and raised in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone. After receiving his Professional Doctorate in the Netherlands and PhD in Australia, Victor began work as a research fellow at the University of Iowa Hospital. While engaged in his work and studies abroad, Victor’s mind kept turning back to Sierra Leone and the unnecessary suffering of those who do not have access to adequate healthcare.
“The current lack of access to quality health systems by people living in Sierra Leone has deprived them of life-saving treatment.” —Victor Lamin
In 2020, after months of coordinating with personnel in Australia, Holland, and Sierra Leone, Victor launched the Sierra Lyoa Medical Foundation. The mission of this new organization is to overhaul the approach to maternal health in Sierra Leone by (1) implementing a mobile prenatal clinic that will travel to rural villages and provide care and referral to pregnant women that they otherwise would never have and; (2) strengthening the capacity of existing hospitals providing maternal health and childbirth services as well as working towards building a new state of the art maternal health facility of their own.
CMMB Supports Maternal Health in Sierra Leone through Medical Donations
The maternal mortality rate in Sierra Leone is the highest in the world with 1,360 mothers dying in every 100,000 live births. Maternal deaths account for 36 per cent of all deaths amongst women aged 15-49 years. Women and children face inadequate training and sub-standard and ill-equipped health care facilities. “The current lack of access to quality health systems by people living in Sierra Leone has deprived them of life-saving treatment,” said Victor.
In 2020, CMMB helped 123,270 pregnant women receive health and social services.
CMMB and Sierra Leyoa Medical Foundation have begun working together to respond to the maternal health crisis in Sierra Leone. CMMB has begun sending donations of medicines and medical supplies to support the foundation’s programming, as well as strengthen the capacity of partner facilities in Sierra Leone. Additionally, CMMB Kenya maternal health team are working direcltywith Victor to review program design and best practices for Sierra Leone.
Medical Donations Program Hero: Dr. Mike Pendleton
For more than 30 years, Dr. Mike Pendleton has been committed to providing medical relief work around the world. In 2020, he served in Gidel, Sudan — home to Mother of Mercy Hospital in the Nuba Mountains and CMMB’s longest serving volunteer and Aurora Prize-winner, Dr. Tom Catena
Volunteer Dr. Mike Pendleton at Mother of Mercy Hospital in Gidel, Sudan in March 2020.
Dr. Pendleton has been a physician for over forty years. He helped run a clinic and hospital-based family practice in Oregon, providing care to people of all ages and conditions with services including ER, OB, ICU, and community health. In the early 1990s, Dr. Pendleton began to branch out into international volunteer medical work.
Dr. Pendleton has worked and volunteered around the world including in Vietnam, Albania, Turkey, Afghanistan, Iraq, and South Sudan. He has been a visiting professor through the Fulbright Program at the Kazakhstan National Medical University, as well as a mentor for HIV care and teaching in Botswana through the Botswana-University of Pennsylvania Partnership.
CMMB Medical Donations to Help Strengthen Capacity and Quality of Patient Care in Sudan
In 2020 before the outbreak of COVID-19, Dr. Pendleton joined the CMMB Volunteer Program to provide healthcare to patients of Mother of Mercy Hospital located in Gidel, Sudan. This is the only hospital serving a sprawling area of approximately 1 million people. Dr. Pendleton deployed to Sudan in order to assist the facility’s director and only full-time physician, Dr. Tom Catena, in serving the community.
“In impoverished regions like Gidel, people are already living with a degree of risk. People die prematurely from things like malaria, pneumonia, and gastrointestinal diseases.”—Dr. Pendleton
Strengthening capacity and increasing the quality of patient care drew Dr. Pendleton most to Mother of Mercy Hospital. On the way to Sudan, he delivered a Medical Donations Program donation of Cisplatan, a chemotherapy drug that is used particularly for treating head and neck cancers, to fortify the stock. The patient population served by the hospital suffers from high rates of cancer.
Dr. Pendleton Continues to Support Mother of Mercy Hospital
Now back in the United States after serving in Sudan, Dr. Pendleton looks forward to the evolution of the Mother of Mercy Hospital. He has stayed connected with other CMMB Volunteer Program alumni who also served at the hospital to create new avenues of support, both through staffing a full-time administrator and by providing of medicines. Dr. Pendleton is an inspirational Medical Donations Program Hero who is truly dedicated to improving health of women, children, and their communities.