Late last year, as the Ebola epidemic ignited and spread across West Africa, the Salesian Missions Office for International Programs (also referred to as the property and logistics program) quickly sprang into action. Rallying their extensive network of “giving supply” partners, the office succeeded in organizing and shipping emergency and humanitarian aid supplies that would be crucial to saving lives.
While totals are still being tallied, the office estimates that it was able to coordinate the delivery and distribution of donated supplies (gifts-in-kind) valued at nearly $5.2 million. This relief aid included medical and dental supplies, personal protective equipment, soap and other sanitary supplies, and fortified-rice meals to sites in Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“This is one of our primary missions,” says Kevin Carvajal, gifts-in-kind officer with Salesian Missions. “When disaster strikes, we survey the needs of our missionaries in the field, and look for ways that we can fulfill them.”
Such fulfillment is possible thanks to extensive partnerships with U.S.-based private-sector and governmental organizations, whose visions and goals coincide with those of Salesian Missions. Each year, these organizations contribute millions of dollars in tax-deductible, in-kind donations and government excess property. Additionally, a USAID Ocean Freight Reimbursement Grant enables Salesian Missions to deliver shipments at low cost.
“While the value of the goods is quantifiable, their impact is truly priceless,” says Father Mark Hyde, director of Salesian Missions. “When the government of Sierra Leone asked us to take on the care of hundreds of Ebola orphans, we were able to do so thanks to giving supply partners like Stop Hunger Now -- whose generosity means we can feed hundreds of children three meals per day. When the director of the then-closed Catholic hospital in Monrovia, Liberia, asked us for assistance, our partnerships made it possible to provide personal protective equipment -- which enabled health care workers to continue treating patients safely in the field. And the list goes on.”
Disaster relief is not the only mandate of the program, however. In fact, over the past 20 years, Salesian Missions has shipped more than $167 million in donated educational, medical, agricultural, technical, food and other aid to countries in need through its property and logistics program. In 2014, 20 unique countries (up from 14 in 2009) received a total of 70 containers of food and other donated goods -- often, on a continuing basis -- thanks to these efforts.
“The gifts-in-kind program is paramount to our success in helping impoverished communities build resiliency and sustainability,” says Fr. Mark. “I am grateful for the commitment of the property & logistics staff and for the generosity of our giving partners.”
You may find more information on the Salesian Missions Office of International Programs here.