PORTLAND, Maine — When Portland resident Lilly Angelo returned to her native country of South Sudan in December, she visited her village clinic and was struck by the needs going unmet.
“They had six beds,” she recalled. “The rest of the patients would come and sit on the floors because they didn’t have enough beds. The IVs were hanging from the windows because they didn’t have any poles. In American hospitals, we don’t even have to think about things like that.
“When you get wounded, here they cover you up,” Angelo continued. “There, you’re just out in the open with flies buzzing all around.”
Racks for IVs, gauzes and ointments are among the myriad medical supplies Angelo hopes to help ship back to her native Magwi County clinic after seeing the dearth of equipment there.
On Saturday night, just two days before South Sudan celebrates its first birthday, Angelo is joining with Fort Kent native Ben Collings and fellow South Sudanese humanitarian Mike Bonny to hold a fundraiser at the Southern Maine Community College gymnasium, where attendees can partake in traditional Acholi dance and food. Money from the event will contribute to the trio’s goal of raising $25,000 to send the precious medical cargo to Magwi County.
South Sudan became a country independent of Sudan on July 9, 2011, after decades of intermittent civil war.
“Monday is going to be July 9 and South Sudan is going to be 1 year old,” said Bonny on Tuesday. “But the conditions there have not changed. It’s very difficult for a country to develop in one year.”
Collings said it’s particularly difficult for an independent state to develop when residents are hours away from medical equipment and procedures that in the United States are considered commonplace.
“When people don’t have access to basic health care, their societies can’t grow or thrive,” he said.
Collings, Bonny and Angelo are working with the Scarborough nonprofit group Partners for World Health, which salvages surplus medical supplies due to be discarded by American hospitals and makes them available for donation to overseas communities in need.
“We just need to coordinate shipping the cargo,” said Collings, “and that’s what we’re raising the funds for.”
Tickets to the Saturday night event are $5 for students and $10 for adults, and can be purchased at the door or by calling Bonny at 518-0263. The benefit event will be held from 6 to 11 p.m.