Saving Lives through Exports

At the beginning of 2020 when international borders closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Blessings International immediately considered how people in developing nations would be affected. We recognized that, with teams unable to travel into countries for medical mission trips, an infinite number of communities which rely on outside medical assistance would be left to find other means of sourcing medical help or, otherwise, do without.

The greatest concern was that “doing without” could mean death for many people—people like 21-year-old Matthieu from Togo, who had leprosy, causing two severe lesions in his feet. Having lost his sister a year before to leprosy, Matthieu was well aware of how his condition was deteriorating. Without antibiotics, he knew he could lose one or both legs, or even his life. But Togo, like many countries weathering COVID-19 in isolation, was—and still is—experiencing medical shortages, and Matthieu’s chances of adequate aid was limited.

MMI staff member, Alba, with Matthieu

Matthieu knew he needed medical help if he was going to survive, and he was able to go to the wound clinic run by Medical Mission International (MMI). However, when he arrived, the clinic was struggling to provide medicine for all its patients. In fact, all of the antibiotics he so desperately needed were depleted.

At the time, Blessings didn’t know Matthieu or his plight, but we knew medicines and supplies were in great demand all over the world.

“Teams that had trip dates and destinations in the spring,” Blessings’ CEO Barry Ewy says, “suddenly only had the hope of going next year. But the needs didn’t go away when COVID came. Meanwhile, overseas clinics were watching their pharmacy supplies dwindle.”

In response, Blessings evaluated the figures to see at which threshold international shipping could be free. As soon as we knew, we implemented our export offer, allowing all orders over $1,500 to be exported at no additional cost.

“It was a matter of finding a way to help meet existing need and the new demands of COVID response in a world where travel is essentially impossible,” Barry says. “As an organization, we began informing our partner customers that we are able to meet those needs by sending medicines and supplies as close as their nearest port of import.”

Overseas clinics and hospitals who usually depend on travelers to bring medicines began ordering medical imports from Blessings International, while American-based organization were able to send more medicine, no longer having to budget in the additional shipping costs. It was MMI’s first time placing an order for direct shipment.

“The patients gathered around to see what was in the box and that was a huge explosion of joy when Abla opened it! The timing was perfect!”
– Madeleine Allard, Medical Mission International director

The clinic and its many patients, including Matthieu, waited eagerly for its arrival. According to MMI, when the order arrived, there was a huge explosion of joy among staff and patients when the order was unpacked.

MMI staff began Matthieu on a regimen of antibiotics, and after only one week, the aggressively tunneling lesions in Matthieu’s feet decreased to one-third of the size. Not only were both of his legs saved, but so was his life.

“That was a very generous gift you gave to this lad,” MMI’s director Madeleine Allard said, “and the rest of our patients are experiencing improvements as well. Thank you!”

At this time of severe shortages and need, it’s our hope to continue to make medicines readily available for clinics like MMI, and through them, patients like Matthieu. Though some countries are gradually loosening restrictions, many more are still in full lock-down. As such, we are keeping the free export offer for orders over $1,500 available as long as possible.

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Meagan Briggs

Meagan serves as Blessings International's communications associate.

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